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Friday 19 September 2014

Video: Legal appeal could be 'too stressful' for right-to-die couple

Grainne Cunningham and Lynne Kelleher

Published 14/01/2013 | 05:00

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THE woman at the centre of the landmark right-to-die legal action will decide early this week whether to take her case to the Supreme Court.

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Marie Fleming, who is in the final stages of multiple sclerosis lost her High Court challenge against Ireland's strict legal ban on assisted suicide on Thursday last.

Her partner Tom Curran, who dissuaded her from ending her life in a Swiss euthanasia clinic five years ago, has said he is not sure continuing the legal battle is the right choice.

Mr Curran said it was hard to say "how long Marie has left" and that "I certainly do not want to put any more stress on her".

"We have to weigh up if there are enough benefits from taking the case further," he said.

The couple were offered some hope by the High Court that Tom might not face prosecution if he helps his partner to take her own life.

Under the Criminal Law Suicide Act 1993, it is an offence to assist suicide in Ireland and such an act can lead to a sentence of up to 14 years' imprisonment.

Mr Curran has said that the couple need to make a plan if they are to prepare for the death Marie would like but he is breaking the law if he does so.

"I would like the choice to be able to do it my way which is not dramatic. It is to die in the arms of my family and Tom," Marie told RTE's 'Moment of Truth' programme screened last night.

Tom said: "The first thing we need to do to give us both reassurance that Marie could have a painless and peaceful death is to put in place a plan.

"By putting in place that plan, I have broken the law," he said.

And while Tom has spoken openly of his willingness to break the law, he also revealed he will be devastated when the former UCD lecturer does pass away. The former IT consultant said: "I'll be devastated if Marie dies. My whole life revolves around Marie. That's not because it has to. It's because I want it to."

The couple, who both have grown-up kids from previous marriages, have been partners for 20 years.

Love

He said: "I wouldn't call it love at first sight but things certainly moved very quickly. Within a couple of weeks of meeting each other Marie told me she had MS on the beach in Arklow.

"That gave me the opportunity before things got serious to walk."

The programme revealed that although she was diagnosed almost 30 years ago, she was initially in the stage known as "relapse and remitting" and continued to lecture in UCD.

Tom revealed: "Marie ... while physically her body has been ravaged by the MS, her brain is perfect.

"She made the decision herself that, if the MS got to the point that she didn't want to tolerate it, she would want to end her life."

Irish Independent

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