Saturday 17 March 2018

Constitution does not grant any right to suicide, High Court told

Tim Healy

THERE is no right to take one's life under the Irish Constitution and to argue such a right exists for a small number of people is "radical and unprecedented", the State has told the High Court.

While suicide has been decriminalised here, the State does not accept there is any right to commit suicide, Michael Cush SC, for the State said. The absolute ban on assisted suicide under Irish law would be "illogical" if there was a right to take one's own life.

The courts here have also recognised that the primary personal right under the Constitution is the right to life and that right is not owned just by an individual but by society, counsel added.

Marie Fleming, in her challenge to the constitutionality of the absolute ban on assisted suicide, was effectively arguing a small subset of people have a right to take their own lives and the State did not accept , he added

He was making submissions for the State in the continuing challenge by Ms Fleming (58), who is terminally ill with multiple sclerosis, to the absolute ban on assisted suicide set out in Section 2.2 of the Criminal Law Suicide Act 2003.

In her action, Ms Fleming wants orders which would allow her to be lawfully assisted in taking her own life at a time of her choice. She also argues the DPP should be required to set out the factors to be considered when deciding whether to prosecute a case of assisted suicide.

Earlier, Brian Murray SC, for Ms Fleming, provided the court with a letter from Ms Fleming's general practitioner outlining what would happen if Ms Fleming refused medical treatment. The doctor said Ms Fleming is in significant pain now and, if medical treatment were withdrawn, she would suffer more and die in significant distress.

The case continues before a three-judge court.

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