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17 / 04 / 2009 - Demonstration against euthanasia tells HSE `hands off the sick and the elderly`
Pro-Euthanasia lecture cancellation welcomed
Local people, pro-life activists, and families of seriously ill patients have welcomed the cancellation of a controversial pro-euthanasia lecture which was to have been held in Cork University Hospital on Holy Thursday.
The event was called off only minutes after it began when protestors made their feelings on the issue heard loud and clear. Entitled “Why Euthanasia should be legalized” the lecture was to be given by Len Doyal, a long-time proponent of euthanasia, who has also spoken out in favour of involuntary euthanasia – killing the sick and elderly without their consent. The Daily Mail and the Irish Times reported that 200 protestors – 100 outside the hospital and 100 more in the lecture theatre - had voiced opposition to Doyal’s lecture.
Prof Doyal hit the headlines in the UK in 2006 for his extraordinary views on euthanasia. Writing in the Clinical Ethics Journal in June 2006, Prof Doyal asked, ‘What would be the moral point in expending such valuable resources [palliative care specialists] on severely incompetent patients whose best interests will be served by a quick and painless death?’ He is also the author of a recent article entitled, ‘Towards Guidelines for Withholding and Withdrawal of Life- prolonging Treatment in Neonatal Medicine’.
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Mother and Child Campaign, who welcomed the cancellation of the lecture said that Mr Doyal’s extreme views, his advocacy of illegal, cruel and immoral actions, and the fact that the HSE had bulldozed ahead with the lecture, at taxpayers’ expense, despite widespread opposition had upset and angered local people.”
“We received a great many calls from people in Cork who had family members who were seriously ill or dying,” said Ms Uí Bhriain. “They were extremely upset that the HSE was bringing Mr Doyal to lecture health professionals on killing the sick and the elderly, and they made their voices heard on Holy Thursday. I would absolutely support their right to do so. This wasn’t a debate – it was a lecture paid for by the taxpayer from which the taxpayer was excluded, and was designed to promote euthanasia, and to argue in favour of killing vulnerable people.
Liam Ó Síocháin, who attended the M&CC protest, said that for such families, Mr Doyal’s views were entirely unacceptable. “They felt that it was deplorable that the HSE was facilitating a course of action that is not only illegal but would put their family members in fear, at a time when they are already suffering greatly,” he said. “The HSE can argue that they wanted to support freedom of speech but this was a one-sided lecture. In any case, while most people support free speech, almost no-one agrees that we should give every viewpoint an airing – that’s why child-molesters or racists are not given a platform.”
He added that the HSE needed to listen to the people who funded them in the first place. The lecture was not open to the public and the HSE had ignored hundreds of calls to cancel the event, despite having to put a recorded message in place to deal with the high number of complaints to the hospital regarding the lecture.