Danish ethics council to Oireachtas: don’t legalise ‘assisted dying’

A Danish ethics agency has warned an Oireachtas Committee against legalising assisted suicide.

The Danish National Council on Ethics roundly rejected a legislative proposal in Denmark last year by a vote of voting 16 to 1.

Speaking to the Oireachtas committee on Tuesday, Prof. Merete Nordentoft said the council came to their decision having reviewed the models of assisted dying in Oregon and the Netherlands.

Their review had found that in Holland, which allows euthanasia and has no requirement for terminal illness, “the number of people who die through assisted dying is 10 times greater than in Oregon, which only allows assisted suicide and requires a terminal illness”.

She said the Council decided “an institutionalisation of assisted dying therefore risks threatening the principle that we have the same claim to respect and dignity, regardless of how much we suffer and how high the quality of life is assessed to be.

“If we offer assisted dying, it says, directly or indirectly, that some lives are not worth living.”

“We argue that assisted dying risks causing unacceptable changes to basic norms for society and healthcare,” she told the Oireachtas Committee.