Politicians in Ireland have voted to progress a bill on assisted dying.
Members of the Dáil Éireann house in the Irish parliament (called TDs) voted 81 to 71 on Wednesday to progress a bill which would allow the option of ending one's life when terminally ill.
A Coalition attempt to defer the issue to a special committee for a year was also defeated by 86 voted to 65, with most members having a free vote on the bill as a matter of conscience.
The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has responded by saying: "Once assisted suicide is accepted in principle, it becomes very difficult to draw a line" and referred to it as "always gravely sinful."
The 'Dying in Dignity' bill, proposed by TD Gino Kenny (pictured top right), will now go to committee stage to be discussed in more detail.
The Catholic Bishops argue that true 'dignity' is shown in expert hospice and palliative care, sayig in their statement:
"Human dignity is inherent in every person from the first moment of his or her existence. Even under the most challenging circumstances, we never lose that inherent dignity, which brings a unique quality and meaning to everything we do and are."
A statement from the Church of Ireland’s Archbishop of Armagh and the Archbishop of Dublin (Most Rev John McDowell and Most Rev Dr Michael Jackson) in response to the vote was softer: “‘We affirm the sacredness of human life, in its totality from beginning to end, as a gift given by God, and that each and every human life is intrinsically valuable in all its phases.
“It should also be recognised that very difficult situations and emotions can arise from the management of care towards the end of a life and the discussion of personal circumstances always requires the utmost sensitivity. Such sensitivity should also be borne in mind in the public debate around these issues.”
If made into law, the bill would allow Irish residents (living in Ireland for more than a year) over 18 to be assisted to die by a medical professional if they had stated their intent to. They must have an incurable and progressive illness which cannot be reversed by medical treatment and where they are likely to die as a result of their illness or issues related to their illness.