'Allow me to go gently': Vicky Phelan pleads with Government at launch of Dying with Dignity Bill
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'Allow me to go gently': Vicky Phelan pleads with Government at launch of Dying with Dignity Bill

PATIENT ADVOCATE Vicky Phelan has pleaded with the Government to allow her and other terminally ill patients to be allowed to die with dignity.

Ms Phelan, who has cervical cancer and who famously brought the Health Service Executive to court for the mishandling of hundreds of smear tests which resulted in at least 221 women wrongly being told their smear tests were clear, appeared outside Leinster House yesterday to support the new Dying with Dignity Bill.

The Bill, put forward by Solidarity- People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny and which will be introduced in the Dáil today, has the potential to introduce assisted dying in Ireland for those over the age of 18.

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Speaking yesterday, Ms Phelan said she "didn't have to be asked twice" to support the Bill.

"I would ask all of them, all 160 TDs, to put their opinions to one side and try to put themselves in my shoes, as a young mother with young children," she said.

"Palliative care does not always work. I have seen a number of people over the past two and a half years who have died in a hospice.

"It is great when it works but there are times when it doesn’t, when there is a certain amount of suffering that no amount of pain management can get on top of. I don’t want my children to see me like that."

"I never want my children to see me dying," she said, adding that her terminal diagnosis means that she will die in the next few years. "I want to be able to make that choice when the time comes... the last couple of weeks of my life."

"This Bill is about giving people who are at the end of their life, and in pain, the choice to go gently, so that they don't have a certain amount of unnecessary suffering.

"We don't do it to animals," she continued. "I don't see why we should do it to humans."

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"If you don't agree with that, that's fine. You don't have to choose that. But please allow people who want it to make the choice."

Also at the launch was Tom Curran, partner of the late Marie Fleming, who had tried unsuccessfully to introduce a similar right-to-die bill in 2013.

The new Bill has the support of Solidarity-People Before Profit, Labour, and some Independents.

Sinn Féin's spokesperson for Health, David Cullinane, also indicated that he and his fellow party members will support the Bill, saying it is "an issue that has to be progressed".

"I think we need to be thorough and we need to give it as much pre-legislative scrutiny as possible," Mr Cullinane said.

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"Yes, the bill is to be supported but we need to get it right."