Europe

Marie Fleming loses right-to-die appeal in Republic of Ireland

Marie Fleming and Tom Curran
Image caption Marie Fleming wants to be allowed help to die by her partner, Tom Curran

A terminally ill Irish woman has lost the latest legal challenge in her fight to win the right to take her own life, with the assistance of her partner.

Marie Fleming, who has multiple sclerosis, is unable to end her own life and wants her partner to help her die without risk of prosecution.

The 59-year-old lost her case at the High Court in Dublin in January, but then launched an appeal.

On Monday, the Irish Supreme Court rejected her appeal.

'Tragic case'

It ruled that while the Irish constitution guarantees a right to life there is no corresponding right to die with the help of others.

Delivering the judgement, Chief Justice Susan Denham described it as a "very tragic case".

In the Republic, suicide was decriminalised in 1993.

However, assisting another person to kill themselves can lead to a jail sentence of up to 14 years.

Ms Fleming, a former lecturer from County Wicklow, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986.

She is cared for by her partner, Tom Curran, and has two adult children.

The four-day appeal hearing was told that she is in the final stages of MS, can only move her head, cannot swallow and lives in constant pain.

Her legal team argued that the ban on assisted suicide is discriminatory towards severely disabled people.

Lawyers for Ms Fleming told the court that she should be given the same right to die by suicide as an able-bodied person.

She took the case against the state, the Irish attorney general and the director of public prosecutions (DPP).

Ms Fleming's legal team claimed the Section 2.2 of the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act, which renders it an offence to aide, abet, counsel or procure the suicide of another, was unconstitutional.

They argued that it breached her personal autonomy rights under the Irish constitution and the European convention on human rights.

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