The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has welcomed the decision by the Irish Parliament’s Committee on Justice not to progress the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020, which the Committee described as having ‘serious flaws’.
In a statement on behalf of the all-Ireland denomination, former Moderator Very Rev Dr Trevor Morrow, convener of the PCI panel that advises the Church on social, political and economic matters in the Republic of Ireland, said, “At the time of the Bill’s introduction last year, we said that this particular debate addressed matters of the deepest sensitivity in an area where a person’s essential dignity should always be affirmed.
“This issue raises the most fundamental questions about the value that is placed on human life in Ireland. We therefore welcome the decision by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice not to progress the Bill, essentially because of the serious flaws they found contained within the proposed legislation.
“PCI’s was one of 1,400 submissions received by the Committee in which we expressed our view that the proposed legislation was indeed poorly drafted and deeply flawed. We are pleased that not only did many others share the same opinion, including the Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisors, but that the Committee also came to this conclusion.”
Dr Morrow, who is minister emeritus of Lucan Presbyterian Church in County Dublin, continued, “As a denomination, we firmly believe that life is a gift from God, and the components that contribute to a peaceful and dignified death are not only physical, but also social, emotional, financial and spiritual. The true measure of any society can be estimated in how it treats its most vulnerable, and ensuring that those made vulnerable through illness and distress are well supported is a priority for us all. In that respect our legislators would be better to focus on how the care needs of those approaching the end of life can be improved in a consistent manner across Ireland that affirms every person’s inherent dignity.
“Three years ago members of our General Assembly, attending from across Ireland, discussed this matter and voted to oppose any legislation which allowed for assisted suicide, or euthanasia in these islands. We note the Committee on Justice has recommended that the topic of assisted dying, through suicide or euthanasia, would potentially benefit from detailed consideration by a Special Oireachtas Committee, as this will afford the topic ‘the level of consideration it merits’. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland therefore looks forward to further engaging with elected representatives on this matter, once this Special Committee has been established.”
Dr Morrow concluded by saying, “As our Moderator, Dr Bruce, said about this issue last year, we look forward to contributing to the national debate from the perspective of a pastor’s care, and affirming that assisted suicide is not an expression of compassion for those already suffering.”
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