Saturday 21 September 2019

Terminally-ill Marie has already decided on way to end her life

Miriam Donohoe

THE terminally-ill multiple sclerosis sufferer who this week lost her Supreme Court challenge to the ban on assisted suicide has revealed she has decided on the means she will use to end her life.

Marie Fleming (59) is physically unable to end her own life and wants her partner, Tom Curran, to help her die without fear of prosecution.

Despite the ruling and the prospect of facing a prison sentence, Tom and Marie, speaking exclusively in today's Irish Independent, said they have agreed on a way to end her life, when the "time is right".

Marie had argued that the ban on assisted suicide breached her constitutional rights and discriminated against her as a disabled person.

During an interview at their home in Co Wicklow yesterday, the couple said they have used a book, 'The Peaceful Pill Handbook', as a reference for assisted suicide.

They were critical of the Supreme Court for how it handled the judgment.

"The High Court were very, very charismatic and personable but the Supreme Court were totally different. They were more stand-offish," said Marie, who was too ill to attend the court last Monday to hear the decision herself.

Tom said it could have been "giving a judgment on the house that Sean Quinn was fighting NAMA about" instead of a judgment on someone's life.


"There seemed to be no feeling. It was not someone's life the judgment was being made about. It was made purely on a legal argument. I live with this illness every day, every minute of every day, and to be dismissed . . . I have been very down since the judgment."

Marie said that while she had registered with the assisted suicide clinic Dignitas in Switzerland more than five years ago, she changed her mind.

One of the reasons was when her son pointed out to her that the Dignitas facility was a blue hut in the middle of an industrial estate. "He said I would be looking out on bloody trucks. So we decided against it. We would do it in our own home," she said.

Tom said he has researched a methodology to help Marie end her life. He is now the Europe co-ordinator for Exit International, providing information on assisted suicide.

The couple did not want to reveal which option they have chosen. However, Tom said the simplest way is to use an "exit" bag and to immerse the person in an oxygen-free environment.

"(It's) very quick and pain-ree. Within three breaths the person loses consciousness. It's like going to sleep and then within 15 or 20 minutes they are dead as they are deprived of oxygen."

Marie says she will decide to go if she gets locked-in syndrome, or if she can't talk or listen or see.

In a further statement, released last night, Marie said: "While I feel let down by the judgment, it is more upsetting that it feels I wasn't listened to.

"It seems the State does not want me to die but all the time chips away at my quality of life, one cutback after another . . . the latest being the mobility scheme and the carbon tax increasing heating and transport costs.

"Shame on Enda Kenny for what he is doing to people like me," it said.

"If the people who make the decisions won't listen, I would ask them to come and live my life for just one day or even one hour and tell me how enthusiastic they are about living.

"It seems they will not give me permission to die but they will not help me live either.

"I tolerate a lot and all I ask is to be allowed to make my decision about death and to be given the help that I need to carry out my wishes.

"Through no fault of my own I cannot carry out my wishes myself. I am not asking to find someone to help me, I have that person already.

"All I ask is that he can carry out my wishes without getting himself into trouble. Is that too much to ask?"

Irish Independent

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