Woman loses assisted suicide case
Published 10/01/2013 | 04:25
A terminally ill woman fought back tears as judges in Ireland rejected her plea to be allowed to die peacefully at home in the arms of her loving partner.
Marie Fleming, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), is expected to launch an appeal after she lost a landmark court case for someone to assist her suicide when she chooses without facing jail.
Three judges at the High Court in Dublin unanimously ruled they could not support allowing a third party to bring about the death of another.
But they agreed the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), in this of all cases, would exercise her discretion in a humane and sensitive fashion as to whether to prosecute or not.
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said: "This approach leaves the legislative ban intact while ensuring that the Director is afforded the fullest opportunity to consider what she may think are the special and extenuating factors arising from the harrowing experiences being endured by the plaintiff. But beyond this the court cannot and will not go."
Ms Fleming's solicitor Bernadette Peart said: "Obviously Marie is very disappointed and saddened at today's outcome and feels it would be inappropriate at the present time to discuss any specific legal or factual aspects of the case having regard to the likelihood of an appeal."
Ms Fleming, a former university lecturer, had pleaded with a specially convened hearing to spare her a horrible death and let her be helped to die lawfully with dignity, surrounded by her family. She held back tears and her partner Tom Curran clutched her hand tightly as Mr Justice Kearns, president of the High Court, read a summary of the 121-page ruling.
The judge said the 59-year-old has gallantly fought MS since she was first diagnosed with the disease in 1989. "Her courage in adversity is both humbling and inspiring," he told the court.
In her case against Ireland, the Attorney General and DPP, the mother of two claimed section 2.2 of the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act, which renders it an offence to aide, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of another, was unconstitutional on grounds that it breached her personal rights under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights.
She also wanted an order requiring the DPP to issue guidelines setting out what factors are taken into account in deciding to prosecute a person who assists her in ending her life.