Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
2Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Reform of a Criminal Statute - The legalisation of physician assisted suicide

Reform of a Criminal Statute - The legalisation of physician assisted suicide

Ratings: (0)|Views: 20 |Likes:
This essay seeks ot argue that the prohibition of physician assisted suicide in Ireland leaves a lacuna, whereby the law fails to protect citizens best interests. It seeks to assert the reasoning behind the need for the legalisation of the practice, whilst offering a draft proposal of what such legislation should look like
This essay seeks ot argue that the prohibition of physician assisted suicide in Ireland leaves a lacuna, whereby the law fails to protect citizens best interests. It seeks to assert the reasoning behind the need for the legalisation of the practice, whilst offering a draft proposal of what such legislation should look like

More info:

Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Sep 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
See more
See less

10/27/2013

 
Legalisation of physician assisted SuicideBridget English 07341377Introduction
Physician-assisted aggressive euthanasia is defined as having a medically assisted death,where lethal substances are used to kill. For the purpose of this essay the terms physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia shall be used inter-changedly, both holding the connotation of physician-assisted aggressive-suicide.Ireland has adopted a strictly conservative stance on euthanasia, with physician-assistedsuicide a criminal offence under Section 2 (2) of the Criminal Justice (Suicide) Act 1993:
A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt byanother to commit suicide, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction onindictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years
.I believe that this legislation is fundamentally unjust. Legalised euthanasia would fill the gapin Irish law which denies the most vulnerable, the benefit of their basic rights.
Reasons for legalising euthanasiaDignity:
The preamble of the Irish Constitution vouches to protect the
“dignity and freedom of the
i
ndividual”. This right
is further protected by the UN Declaration on Human Rights, whosepreamble guarantees
“reco
gnition of the inherent dignity....of all members of the human
family”.
Chapter 1 of The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU is Dignity, stating that
Human dignity is inviolable. It must be
respected and protected.”
 Dignity is one of the most fundamental rights. It deserves stringent protection by society, butis frequently violated by the imposition of extreme, prolonged suffering. The importance of the protection of dignity was endorsed by the European Court of Justice
’s ruling
thatsuffering attributable to the progression of a disease may amount to torture if the State can
 
prevent such suffering and does not do so.
1
This view was reiterated
McEachern J’s
dissent in
 Rodriguez v Attorney General
 State-imposed prohibitions.....that impose an indeterminate period of senseless physical andpsychological suffering on someone who was shortly to die anyway could not conform withany principle of fundamental justice.
2
 How then, can we assert that it is just to allow the terminally-ill to suffer the inhumanity of prolonged illness? How can we say that their pain and dependence on others is an assertion of their right to dignity? In short, we cannot. The prohibition on physician-assisted suicide isunquestionably a gross violation of the right to dignity.
Self determination:
The rights to bodily integrity and privacy are unenumerated rights, protected under Article40.1 of the Constitution, per
 Ryan v Attorney General
3
and
 Norris v Attorney General
4
 respectively. Flowing from these rights are the principles of personal autonomy and self determination. As stated by Denham J in Re
Ward of Court 
 
The right to privacy must besuch as to ensure the dignity and freedom of an individual.
5
Surely these rights bestowupon each individual the right to govern their own course, particularly in respect of theirmedical treatment. This view received significant support from Lord Hoffman in AiredaleNHS Trust v Bland -
“The principle of self 
-determination should prevail over the sanctity of 
life”
6
 and again from Costello P
1
D v United Kingdom (1997) 24 EHRR 423, paras 46-54
2
 
Rodriguez v Attorney General [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519 at page 146
 
3
[1965] IR 294
4
[1984] IR 36
5
Re Ward of Court (Withholding Medical Treatment) No. 2 [1996] 2 IR 79 at pg 163
6
[1993] AC 789 at pg 827
 
The dignity and autonomy of the human person require the State to recognise that decisionsrelating to life and death are ones which a competent adult should be free to make withoutoutside restraint
7
 If each individual entitled by virtue of self determination to withdraw from medicaltreatment, surely the distinction drawn in respect of euthanasia is arbitrary and artificial. Ashas been argued by M A Branthwaite
8
,
“physician
-assisted suicide provides a logicalextension to the well established
 
principle....that competent adults are entitled
 
to withhold orwithdraw consent to life sustaining treatment
9
. If a person can refuse treatment with theknowledge that it will cause death, is it such a stretch of the law to allow them to end theirlife? I believe that such a distinction is fundamentally unjust. 
Equality:
Article 40.1 of the Constitution guarantees
that all peopl
e shall be equal before the law”
.While this guarantee is not absolute and is qualified by the subsequent subsection, surely thelaw should afford equal protection and rights to all Irish citizens. The prohibition of physician-assisted suicide certainly does not do so. The 1993 Act decriminalised suicide. Toremove the legality of suicide merely because somebody lacks the physical capacity to do sowithout help, seems to me a distinct contravention of equality. As has been argued byProfessor Mervyn Glover
10
, “
It is Discriminatory....that somebody who is capable of committing suicide is able to do that, but somebody who happens to lack the physical
capacity to do that is denied it”
11
While physical difference can be argued as grounds for thisdiscrimination, such a severe limitation of the rights of the incapacitated cannot bepermissible. Neither can it be qualified on the basis of morality or protection of the commongood. Lynch J in
 Re Ward 
 
went as far as to say “
Death is....desired by the patient and there is
nothing legally or morally wrong in such an attitude”.
12
 
7
 
In an article entitled The Terminally Ill: The Law’s Concern” (1986) XXI Ir Jur
35
 
8
 M A Branthwaite, BMJ 2005;331:681-683 (24 September) 
9
 
Re T. (Adult, refusal of treatment) [1992] 3 Medical Law Reports 306
 
10
Centre of Medical Law & Ethics, Kings College London
 
11
 
Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill - First Report at paragraph 42
 
12
[1996] 2 IR 79 At page 94

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->