Vicky Phelan says terminally ill people should have right to decide how to die
"Just because you believe something for your own reasons, whether they’re religious or other, you shouldn’t be imposing your beliefs on somebody else."
Cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan has called on politicians to grant terminally ill people the right to die via medical assistance on their own terms.
Speaking alongside the launch of a Sunday Times campaign in support of voluntary assisted death, Phelan contrasted the attitude of politicians with that of the general public, noting that she has previously received backing from the public while pushing for the recent Dying with Dignity Bill.
That bill, which was heavily criticised by medical professionals, stalled last summer following a recommendation from the Joint Committee of Justice to establish a Special Oireachtas Committee for the purposes of further examination on the topic.
"Based on its consideration, the Committee has determined that the Bill has serious technical issues in several sections, that it may have unintended policy consequences – particularly regarding the lack of sufficient safeguards to protect against undue pressure being put on vulnerable people to avail of assisted dying – that the drafting of several sections of the Bill contain serious flaws that could potentially render them vulnerable to challenge before the courts.
"The gravity of such a topic as assisted dying warrants a more thorough examination which could potentially benefit from detailed consideration by a Special Oireachtas Committee," noted a Houses of the Oireachtas statement in July.
Speaking in the Sunday Times this weekend, Phelan noted that she doesn't understand what "holds politicians back" and thanked the public for their support to date.
“Nobody’s allowed to give you a magic injection to make you go any faster and I don’t want to be lingering for my kids," she said.
“Just because you believe something for your own reasons, whether they’re religious or other, you shouldn’t be imposing your beliefs on somebody else," Phelan added.
Phelan's comments arrive shortly after an appearance on The Late Late Show in which she spoke candidly about her decision to cease chemotherapy treatment and her desire to spend Christmas with her chldren.
Clip via The The Late Late Show
After her first round of chemotherapy, Phelan said she couldn't get out of bed for over 10 days.
"I was sick, in pain, tired and going from one side effect to another and this is something people don't talk about," she said.
"The horrors of the treatment are often worse than the actual disease," added Phelan.
"I'd rather be well and have a shorter time frame. I'd like my children to have memories of doing stuff with me and if I die sooner, so be it."
Phelan went on to say that over a month ago, she didn't think that she'd see Christmas.
"That's how real this is for me," she said.
"At this stage, I've been fighting this terminal part of the disease since 2018."
She continued: "I've always known this cancer is incurable. I've been very realistic about it."