The issue of euthanasia and the need for information and the start of a social dialogue in Cyprus were discussed at a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights on Monday.
Irini Charalambidou, AKEL MP and Chairman of the Committee, noted that the research of the National Bioethics Committee of Cyprus is the first documented approach of society's views on euthanasia. “Everything points to the acceptance of such a legislative approach by society,” he said, adding that the position of the Ministry of Health is also positive, which is in favor of giving the right to euthanasia under strict conditions and after dialogue with medical teams.
Ms. Charalambidou stressed that we must defend the right of a patient, who suffers from an illness from which he will end up, based on a medical opinion, to choose the way he will leave life. In addition, he stated that in cooperation with the University of Nicosia, the University of Cyprus, the Pancyprian Bar Association will prepare a “very difficult” -as he described it- draft law that will provide for changes in the Penal Code. Answering a journalist question, he explained that similar practices exist all over the world and that it is a matter of supervision and implementation of laws by each country. “In the first stage we will not touch on the issue of minors”, he concluded.
Rita Superman, DISY MP, said that the dilemmas for the implementation of a legislative framework for the informed right to death and the autonomy of the individual still remain. “What we are looking at here is not the right to die, but the right to be killed by a doctor or the right to support suicide,” he said, adding that euthanasia requires two people to make it possible and a “complicit society” to accepts it.
Ms. Superman referred to the example of the Netherlands, “which since the beginning of the implementation of the law of euthanasia has changed the framework many times and today gives the right to too many groups of patients.” He argued that there was a risk that supply would also create demand, as evidenced by the large increase in the number of people seeking euthanasia at European level. In addition, he pointed out that the patient-doctor relationship is corrupting, because it creates the perception in patients that doctors sometimes help or incite suicide.
Pavlos Mylonas, DIKO MP, noted that passive euthanasia is applied informally in Cyprus and described active euthanasia as “a dangerous line between killing and relieving a patient's pain.” The data of the research of the National Bioethics Committee of Cyprus are useful, however a research addressed to the patients who are in the final stage would give us the answer, Mr. Mylonas stressed, adding that the issue is sensitive.
Mr. Mylonas also raised the issue of minors and the elderly, as well as the patient's agreement with the doctors. “Who will carry out the murder, with or without quotation marks? “Who will make the decision if the patient is not able to make it?” he wondered, adding that the issue is what patients in the final stages of their disease say and think.
For her part, Alexandra Attalidou, Member of Parliament for Ecologists, stressed that the vast majority of Cypriot society agrees and agrees on the right to euthanasia for people who are in the final stages. “Euthanasia will involve people who fully consciously agree and consent to their exit from life with this method,” he said, adding that the legal framework would be very strict. “The state legislates for all citizens and not for specific groups,” he said.
Answering a journalistic question, Ms. Attalidou stated that once science assures that the patient will end up and have to face a Golgotha of pain, we ask the patient to be entitled to shorten this Golgotha. “It's a human right to decide. “Life and its mood belong to human beings under certain strict conditions”, he concluded.
Alekos Tryfonidis, DIPA MP, stated that his party will monitor the issue of euthanasia and will listen carefully to all views. “We consider it important that there is a social dialogue so that all views are heard, whether positive or negative. The legal framework to be voted on must be strict and include all procedures and conditions “, he added.
In addition, Mr. Tryfonidis stressed that the State must substantially improve palliative care services and provide all patients who need it. “There are serious gaps and omissions in this area, with the result that our fellow citizens are suffering,” he pointed out.
Konstantinos Fellas, Chairman of the National Bioethics Committee of Cyprus, stated that a nationwide research was conducted with the participation of 750 people over the age of 18 on euthanasia. According to the survey, six out of ten participants said they agreed with the legitimacy of euthanasia and that our fellow human beings have the right to choose death through euthanasia, he said, adding that eight out of ten say that this right can be exercised. in case of incurable and torturous chronic disease or when all the possibilities for pain relief have been exhausted. Furthermore, he noted that 64% of respondents said that it was time to create a legal framework for euthanasia in Cyprus and that 50% agree with the right of a person to choose to proceed with euthanasia. One in five would consider the application of euthanasia to children over the age of 12 under strict conditions, Mr Fellas added.
“Society is sending a message to the state for the institutionalization and legalization of euthanasia,” he said, adding that the National Bioethics Committee of Cyprus is unanimous in favor of legalizing voluntary euthanasia with the patient's valid and informed consent. Mr. Fellas also called for strict conditions and strict safeguards to protect the dignity and respect of those suffering from an incurable disease. “The legalization of euthanasia is not a substitute for an effective palliative care that the state is obliged to provide to our fellow citizens,” he said. “Is it the right to a dignified death or the obligation to a painful life?”, Asked Mr. Fellas.
For his part, Father George Christodoulou, Chief Secretary Holy Synod, stated that the view of the Church is timeless and may sound harsh, because the philanthropic dilemmas that are posed may become marginal and perceived as inhuman.
“For the Church, Euthanasia, whether active or passive, is considered life-sustaining. If it is voluntary, it is considered assisted suicide. If it is not voluntary, it is no different from murder “, he stressed, pointing out that, when the issue of death is raised, the issue of the principle of life is also raised.