Assisted dying debate 'should focus on people who need it' - Gail O'Rorke

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland claim euthanasia is not necessary for a dignified death
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.37 20 Dec 2021

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Assisted dying debate 'should...

Assisted dying debate 'should focus on people who need it' - Gail O'Rorke

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.37 20 Dec 2021

Share this article

A woman, who was found not guilty of assisting a friend to take her own life, says we should be focusing on the people who need assisted dying legislation.

Gail O'Rorke was speaking as the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland claimed euthanasia was not necessary for a dignified death, and warned techniques used can "result in considerable and protracted suffering".

One of the paper's authors - Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist Dr Eric Kelleher - earlier told Newstalk after introducing assisted dying for the terminally ill, it took Canada less than four years to expand the legislation to include chronic illnesses.


But Gail told The Hard Shoulder comparing Ireland to other countries is not fair.

"We don't look to other countries for many aspects of how we live our life and run our life here.

"So to say 'What happens if we become like Canada, if we become like the Netherlands' - that's a big 'if'.

"And I would prefer if the politicians, doctors and the psychiatrists could focus on their own people and their own set of circumstances and their own stringent guidelines.

"We can always look to other countries and say 'Oh my God, what happens if that happens here?'

"But in the meantime while that broad spectrum of presumption is being made, the people living in this country... are just being pushed to the side."

'People are waiting for this to come'

And she says any surge of people that may use the law is to be expected.

"He referred, and as did the Irish Times refer, to them saying that when this legislation is approved... there's a surge in people coming forward.

"But for me personally that makes common sense, because it's now been legalised.

"People waiting in the sidelines, waiting for this to come forward to enable them to have their dignified death if they choose so, that surge is there because it's been legalised - so that just makes common sense".

She says referring to the practice as 'unnecessary' is "extremely offensive on behalf of all the people who in their life and their pain and their death and their suffering find it unbelievably necessary.

"This is a subjective matter - and for anybody to use such a blanket phrase, of something that many, many people want to avail of, I just found it really inappropriate".

But she believes we should be focusing on the people behind the legislation - like Vicky Phelan.

"It leaves a bad taste at the back of my mouth when I find that people who have her in the position she's in right now might be able, once again, to decide whether she can live or die in a certain way.

"So instead of taking the grand size of this, I think we need to focus on the people who require this.

"And at the end of the day, this is not a mandate, this is not compulsory - it's just a choice".

And Gail says her friend, Bernadette Forde, would not have been entitled to assisted dying.

"She didn't have a terminal illness - so even with this Physician Assisted Dying Bill being proposed here, Bernadette wouldn't have fit the criteria for that because MS is not a terminal illness.

"Her prospects of the future were living, maybe for eight to 10 years, in absolute chronic pain, every dignity she had being taken away.

"In care, being hoisted in and out of bed, being fed through a tube.

"There's situations where you're not terminally ill, but you're not going to live a life that has any quality to it whatsoever.

"There's just so many different situations out there".

Main image: Gail O'Rorke leaving the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in April 2015. Picture by PA Images Alamy Stock Photo Brian Lawless

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