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Marie Fleming loses legal case challenging Irish laws prohibiting assisted dying

59 year old mother of two, Marie Fleming, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 27 years ago and is now in the terminal phase of the disease. She would like the choice of an assisted death at home, and challenged the Irish laws which prevent her from having such a choice (the Criminal Law Suicide Act 1993). She claimed the law discriminated against people who are unable to travel abroad to die without assistance. Ms Fleming would like to see the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Ireland publish guidance on which acts would and would not be likely to result in prosecution in cases of assistance to die, as the DPP for England and Wales did in the UK following Debbie Purdy’s 2009 legal victory. The High Court today ruled against Marie, but she and her partner Tom Curran plan to challenge the court’s ruling by appeal.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:

“Dignity in Dying campaigns for a change in the law on assisted dying in Britain. Nevertheless, compassion, dignity and choice in dying are universal issues and we monitor progress towards more compassionate laws in other countries with interest.

“This result is disappointing, but sadly not unexpected. I commend Marie’s courage in working to change the law in Ireland and am pleased that they intend to appeal this ruling. When the law does change in Ireland it will be in no small part due to the courage and determination of Marie and others like her who do not accept the status quo which forces some people to suffer against their wishes at the end of life.

“In 2013 we will see Assisted Dying Bills in Westminster, Holyrood and across the channel in the French Parliament. With these parliamentary attempts to change the law, cases like Marie Fleming’s in Ireland and Gloria Taylor’s legacy in Canada, we hope this year will be one of progress in end of life choice for people across the globe.”


Notes to editor:

Dignity in Dying:

  • Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
  • Dignity in Dying has over 25,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.

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