After Abortion, Agenda Moves Swiftly to Euthanasia
Just days after the abortion referendum, Minister John Halligan has said he will bring forward legislation on euthanasia within weeks. As a Private Member’s Bill, it is unlikely to progress without the support of the government, but it is likely to be seized on by campaigners eager to capitalize on the abortion referendum.
The Independent Alliance minister brought a “Dying With Dignity” Bill before the Oireachtas in 2015, but it fell with the calling of a general election two months later. However, the Irish Independent reports that he is working on a renewed version of the Bill, which will be published shortly.
"I'll have everything ready in a matter of weeks," Mr Halligan confirmed. As a minister, he is banned from introducing legislation that hasn't been approved by the Cabinet - but Halligan is lining up a Government backbencher to bring the Bill to the Dáil floor on his behalf.
The Waterford TD is meeting with legal professionals next week to tease out the issues. It is understood the proposed law would require a person to be terminally ill, have a "clear and settled intention to end his or her own life" and be over 18 in order to be killed.
Asked whether he believes euthanasia will gain public support, Mr Halligan said the abortion referendum shows people are showing "courage and compassion". He noted that opinion polls have suggested people are in favour of the idea. "My problem will be getting support in the Dáil.
In this regard, it is notable that Portugal, held up by Repeal campaigners as an example of how a “Catholic” country legislates for abortion also risks joining the tiny band of countries that have so thoroughly abandoned respect for human life that they give legal sanction to the deliberate killing of the elderly and infirm.
Four separate euthanasia proposals were put to a vote in parliament this week, and were only narrowly defeated.
A series of left-leaning governments determined to bring about what they call a “modernization” of the country, as well as the Catholic Church’s waning influence, have opened the door to deep cultural changes in Portugal. That trend has included permitting abortion on demand in 2007 and same-sex marriage three years later.
A 2016 petition by right-to-die activists pushed the contentious and divisive issue of euthanasia onto the political agenda. It got more than 8,000 signatures - more than double the amount needed to force a parliamentary debate last year. In response, a petition by the Portuguese Federation for Life a few months later collected more than 14,000 signatures and told lawmakers that society and the state have a duty to protect human life.
Now, four left-leaning political parties - the governing center-left Socialist Party, the radical Left Bloc, the Green Party, and the People, Animals, Nature party - have tabled bills proposing euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. Inciting or assisting euthanasia is currently punishable by up to three years in prison.
The Socialist Party’s bill garnered the most votes (110, with 115 opposed), though there is little difference between the four parties’ proposals.
Irish Independent. May 29. Crux. May 28. New York Times / AP. May 29. MercatorNet. May 30.