Irish society is moving towards an acceptance of euthanasia if a new survey of medical students is a barometer of national opinion.
Almost 60 percent of those who took part in the research project were in favour of euthanasia, currently banned in Ireland.
The survey of final year students at University College Cork was conducted amongst his peers by Canadian Matthew Carere.
He presented his findings to a Law Society conference in UCC on Wednesday, entitled ‘Assisted Dying and Euthanasia in Ireland’.
Carere told the conference: “Public opinion towards euthanasia is changing because patients are better informed to make decisions for themselves.
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“Over the past three decades public opinion toward euthanasia is gradually improving. We are moving away from a paternalistic type medicine, respecting more patient autonomy and patients are more well informed.”
Amongst the speakers at the debate was Dublin City University lecturer Dr Adam McAuley who argued that debate on the subject of euthanasia requires ‘a move away from the moral absolute’.
Having traced the history of legislation on euthanasia and assisted suicide, Dr McAuley claimed that new legislation is required as physical assisted suicide is happening in Ireland but ‘behind closed doors’.
“A very narrow group of individuals should not prevent us regulating for it,” Dr McAuley.
The conference also heard from Exit International Ireland founder Tom Curran who spoke of his wife Marie’s 30 year battle with multiple sclerosis for 30 years.
Curran has pledged to help Marie take her own life if necessary. “If she does decide, she will have to have help and I will be breaking the law,” he said.
The conference also heard Anthony Ozimic of the UK’s Society for Protection of the Unborn Child say: “Euthanasia is underpinned by a pessimism about the value of life and the ability of society to respond adequately to the sick and the vulnerable.”