Saturday 24 February 2018

Euthanasia group holds workshop on end-of-life options

Left to right: Tom Curran, Gail O’Rorke and Dr Philip Nitschke speaking at the Exit International Dublin conference on assisted suicide
Left to right: Tom Curran, Gail O’Rorke and Dr Philip Nitschke speaking at the Exit International Dublin conference on assisted suicide

Sam Griffin

Laws allowing for assisted suicide must be passed by the Government to prevent suffering and to remove the threat of imprisonment, Dublin woman Gail O'Rorke has said.

Ms O'Rorke was last month acquitted of all charges related to attempting to assist in the death of her dying friend, Bernadette Forde.

She was speaking at a workshop hosted by the group Exit International, which provides information and advice on end-of-life options.

Yesterday's workshop, held in Bewley's Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin, consisted of a presentation which was open to the public, followed by a closed meeting "for members only".

Exit International director Dr Philip Nitschke, who helped four people to lawfully end their lives in Australia before the law was changed, said "practical" information would be given in the closed meeting.

The group's members were invited to bring along their cylinders of helium - used for assisted suicide - so they could be tested for their effectiveness.

Addressing the public part of the session, Ms O'Rorke said the journey she undertook with her friend Bernadette was "filled with love, laughter, compassion and understanding" and had "resulted in a landmark case".

She said she had fully supported her friend's decision to travel to Switzerland to end her life and said the garda "intervention", which ultimately prevented the two from travelling, meant this "slowly dying woman was faced with her worst fears and nightmares". She said the Government needs to follow up on the same-sex marriage referendum by legislating for assisted suicide.

"Today, I call upon the Irish parliament to pass an assisted suicide law so that people like myself can be good friends and relations to those we love and not have to risk jail or the process like I did," she said.

The meeting was also addressed by campaigner Tom Curran, whose late partner Marie Fleming lost a landmark right-to-die case in the Supreme Court in 2013.

Mr Curran said he was preparing a bill on the issue to be presented to the Dáil before the summer recess.

Dr Nitschke outlined how he had been able to assist people to end their lives in Australia and also spoke on the impact of Ms O'Rorke's case.

He said the point of the workshop was to make sure people "understand the law so that they can do what they know to be the right thing" without facing criminal charges.

Irish Independent

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