Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Partner backs right-to-die woman

Terminally ill Marie Fleming is taking her battle for the right to die in an assisted suicide to the country's highest court

The partner of a terminally ill woman who lost a legal challenge over her right to die has said he is prepared to do whatever she wants.

Multiple sclerosis sufferer Marie Fleming, who was too ill to attend the Supreme Court hearing in Dublin, was told that there could be no grounds under Irish law that would allow her to be assisted to end her life.

In an emotional statement outside the court, Tom Curran said he would act according to Ms Fleming's wishes.

"The court has ruled on Marie's future as far as they're concerned and we will now go back to Wicklow and live our lives until such a time when Marie makes up her mind that she has had enough," he said. "And in that case, the court will have the opportunity to decide on my future."

Asked if he would help Ms Fleming to die, he said: "That will only come up when Marie makes a decision herself."

Ms Fleming had appealed for the seven-judge court to allow her to die peacefully at home in Arklow, Co Wicklow in the arms of her partner without him facing the threat of being prosecuted and possibly jailed.

Mr Curran was supported by Ms Fleming's children, Corrinna and Simon, and his son, David, as the judgment was delivered. Delivering the ruling, Chief Justice Susan Denham described the case as "very tragic".

Ms Fleming, in the final stages of MS, can only move her head, lives in constant pain and cannot swallow. She suffers choking sessions which she fears will eventually kill her, the court was told during a four-day High Court hearing in February and March. She has been suffering from a chest infection in the run-up to the judgment.

In her case against Ireland, the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the mother of two claimed Section 2.2 of the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act, which renders it an offence to aide, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of another, is unconstitutional on grounds that it breaches her personal autonomy rights under the Irish Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights.

Her legal team argued that the ban is discriminatory and deprives an "entirely innocent" group of the severely disabled of suicide, and that she should be given the same right to die by suicide as an able-bodied person.

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