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– Bishop Brendan Leahy

Monday 4 October 2021:  Expecting doctors and nurses to perform the act that ends the life of another person through ‘assisted suicide’ would fly in the face of the ethos and credibility of healthcare professions, Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has stated. 

In his weekend homily on ‘Day for Life’, delivered at Patrickswell Church, Bishop Leahy said that allowing for assisted suicide would damage the relationship with healthcare professionals. 

Bishop Leahy said that COVID-19 put focus on the value of life in Ireland but while extraordinary efforts were being made to protect the lives of the most vulnerable, at the same time the Oireachtas was being asked to discuss legislation to provide for assisted suicide. 

“Healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses are given privileged access to the human body and to drugs for the express purpose of healing and alleviating pain. Any suggestion that they should be expected to assist and, under certain circumstances, actually perform the act that ends the life of another person, is seriously damaging to the ethos and the credibility of the healthcare professions. I believe it is unfair on them and would damage healthcare and our normal relationship with healthcare professionals,” he said.

Bishop Leahy said that we can see from other countries, once assisted suicide becomes lawful, it is then presented and perceived as something good to do. “Then what happens is that, instead of being surrounded by love and care, people who are already vulnerable and dependent on others due to their illness, or being very elderly or suffering from dementia, or having disabilities are made to feel that assisted suicide would be ‘the decent thing to do’.”

Bishop Leahy said there can be an upgrading of messages of fear about those approaching death and a downgrading of the message of just how much can be done for them and how so many really die well. 

“In Ireland we are fortunate that in general we still have a culture that surrounds the dying with much care and love. Of course, the death of a loved one is always tinged with sadness. Yet, there are many stories of people who die well surrounded in their last days and weeks by family members and good healthcare. It would be sad to let the messages of fear usher in a culture of assisted suicide,” he said.