Dying with Dignity It shouldn't be a crime helping a terminally-ill person to die
THE Irish are great at putting things on the long finger, but one issue I feel we have to address is assisted suicide, which is people's right to choose to die with dignity.
Anybody who has seen a very sick loved-one with an incurable, life- limiting illness deteriorate in agony will know how difficult it is to watch that person lose all dignity and live their last days, weeks or months in pain.
It's horrific for the family and, more importantly, the person themselves.
I've never understood why a terminally-ill person who has clearly had enough of the life they're living - and the pain they're suffering - can't be helped to die.
Any argument against assisted suicide usually comes back to God or the potential for it to be abused.
People need to educate themselves on what's being put before the Dáil for debate.
Dublin mid-west TD Gino Kenny's Private Member's Bill, which would allow for assisted suicide in Ireland, has some very strict conditions attached.
Today in the Dáil the debate will begin in earnest.
With public support appearing to be behind it, I hope our politicians can move this forward to a point where it can be made legal.
If the Dying with Dignity Bill were legislated for, it would give those with an incurable and progressive illness the choice to end their own life on their own terms.
Many people won't do this, but some people will, and in order to allow them, the law needs to change.
What's being proposed allows for only narrow access to ending suffering and is not a move to assisted suicide as the individual must be terminally-ill as certified by two doctors.
In addition, the bill specifies that assistance to die can only be given by a medical practitioner and not simply a friend, and it must be demonstrated that the sick person has the capacity to make such a monumental decision.
Suicide, under Irish law, ceased to be a crime in 1993. It's perfectly legal for someone to take their own life, but anyone helping them to do so, including a medical practitioner, is guilty of a crime.
If I can't take my own life because of a medical condition, it should be possible for me to be helped along the way.
Irish law currently forces people who in some cases are enduring horrific lives of pain and misery to continue living.
We don't allow dogs to live in pain when they're very sick - we "put them out of their misery" and see it as the compassionate thing to do.
If someone's life has become a misery and they're terminally-ill, I see no reason why that person shouldn't have the right to leave this life on their terms.
I hope our political parties allow a free conscience vote on this issue and that we can take our final step to liberalising Irish law.
We should all have the right to go with dignity when the time comes. It's not OK leaving a terminally-ill person to suffer.