Motion: 07. The Right to Die with Dignity
Motion
Motion Title The Right to Die with Dignity
Branch Dublin South Central
Address To Policy Committee
Motion

That the Social Democrats Policy Committee develop a policy which recognises:

1)The right of terminally or seriously ill people, who want to live as long as they can, to get the best possible medical resources that are available to enable them to do this. Nobody should be forced to die earlier than they want to, and the law should have strong safeguards to protect this right.

 

2) The right of rational terminally or seriously ill people, who want to die peacefully at a time of their choosing, to be supported in carrying out this wish. Nobody should be forced to endure unnecessary suffering, particularly when it is a question not of whether they will die but of how and when.

 

3) The right of disabled people to be assisted by their medical team or by their loved ones to die peacefully at a time of their choosing. Nobody should be subject to discrimination on the basis of their disability, by being forced to endure suffering because they require assistance to do something that an able-bodies person can lawfully do.

That the party support the right to die with dignity, and, with the support of others, if necessary, re-submit to the Oireachtas the Dying with Dignity Bill 2015.

Amendments to Motion
Background

In April 2013 the Supreme Court in a ruling on Marie Flemings right to die application noted that there was nothing to stop the Oireachtas from legislating to allow for assisted suicide in such cases, once it was satisfied that appropriate safeguards were put in place.

 

The Criminal Law (Suicide) Act, 1993 section 2, at present, states that a person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another to commit suicide, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

 

Suicide has been decriminalised in Ireland since 1993, but helping someone to end their life remains a criminal offence and is punishable with up to 14 years in prison.

 

Nobody should be forced to die earlier than they want to, and the law should have strong safeguards to protect this right.

 

The right of rational terminally or seriously ill people, who want to die peacefully at a time of their choosing, to be supported in carrying out this wish. Nobody should be forced to endure unnecessary suffering, particularly when it is a question not of whether they will die but of how and when.

 

The right of people with a disabling health condition to be assisted by their medical team or by their loved ones to die peacefully at a time of their choosing. Nobody should be subject to discrimination on the basis of their disability, by being forced to endure suffering because they require assistance to do something that an able-bodied person can lawfully do.

 

In 2015 a Dublin Woman Gail O’Rorke was found not guilty of attempting to assist the suicide of her friend. She was in court charged with making arrangements for MS-sufferer and friend Bernadette Forde to travel to Dignitas in Zurich. The trip Ms Forde had planned was eventually cancelled after Gardaí were notified by a travel agent. Gardaí warned that to travel with a person who wants to end their life is an offence in Irish law. O’Rorke had previously been acquitted of two charges of assisting Forde’s suicide by allegedly helping to procure a lethal dose of drugs and making funeral arrangements.

 

The right to choose is fundamental to the ethos of the Social Democrat Party. In the past the party has been to the fore of this fundamental right. This motion is not just a request, it is a demand, that no Irish citizen should have to leave the country to enable then to control what happens with his or her body.

 

The following is an email from a person who wished to die with dignity but was forced to leave the country and travel to Dignitas in Switzerland to die with dignity:

“I have a question to ask you now that you have seen me. I have had a hard time and I’m tired of the struggle. If you were me what would you do?
Last spring I had X-rays done and I was told that I was in end stages of R/A.
4 limbs have no bone density and my hips so corroded I could have a fracture in hips as well as limbs. I cannot repair the bone because I cannot lift my own bodyweight,
My doctor said I have a hole right thru the left where there should be bone.
I cannot metabolize food. I’m sure you saw I ate very little. Eating food make me spin then throw up.
They said I could have a t\stroke at any time. That would be fine other than there is no confirming I would die. That’s scarier.
My son quit his job and came home because of my health. In July I let my children see the xrays and told them I had written away to Switzerland to give them my history and medical report.
In Switzerland I am a candidate for them to give me a prescription and to stop this 20 year cycle of suffering.
They have read my history and x-rays and have given my “the yes” They will help me end this suffering.I have had great concern telling you but I can only hope you all understand and support my decision.
I’m too tired to keep fighting. I don’t want my children to have to witness me in a diaper and wasting away to nothing,
I telling you so you can help my son cause he carries the biggest burden.
He came home to help his mother…..there is no love greater….it’s been hard on him”