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Saturday 18 November 2017

MS sufferer lodges appeal over ban on assisted suicide

Tim Healy

MULTIPLE sclerosis sufferer Marie Fleming has lodged an appeal over the High Court's rejection of a blanket ban on assisted suicide.

It is expected her lawyers will apply to the court today for an urgent hearing of the appeal.

The appeal papers from the 59-year-old, who is in the final stages of MS, were lodged in the Supreme Court office yesterday afternoon.

Given the importance of the issues in the case, it is likely the appeal will be heard by a seven-judge Supreme Court.

Last week, a three-judge High Court ruled the absolute ban on assisted suicide does not disproportionately infringe Ms Fleming's personal rights under the Constitution.

It also ruled that the DPP had no power to issue guidelines setting out what factors she would consider in deciding whether to prosecute cases of assisted suicide.

The court was "sure" the DPP would adopt a humane and sensitive approach to Ms Fleming's plight, said President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.

Ms Fleming said afterwards that she was disappointed and saddened by the outcome.

Mr Justice Kearns said altering an absolute ban on assisted suicide could open a "Pandora's Box", with the risks of abusing the law "all too real".

The court had heard "deeply worrying" evidence from doctors that there would be "unforseeable and perhaps uncontrollable" changes in attitude and behaviour regarding assisted suicide, he said.

Other concerns were evidence of "a strikingly high" increase in involuntary deaths in countries where assisted suicide is legal.

Irish Independent

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