Woman loses assisted suicide case
Ms Fleming’s solicitor Bernadette Peart thanked the court and other legal teams involved for giving the case a full and speedy hearing, given her client’s circumstances.
She said: "Obviously Marie is very disappointed and saddened at today’s outcome and feels it would be inappropriate at the present time to discuss any specific legal or factual aspects of the case having regard to the likelihood of an appeal."
Ms Fleming, a 59-year-old former lecturer living in Co Wicklow, had asked the court for orders allowing her be lawfully helped take her own life at a time of her choosing so as to avoid what she fears will be a distressing and undignified death.
She argued, in her very particular circumstances, the blanket ban on assisted suicide in Section 2.2 of the Criminal Law Suicide Act 1993 breached her personal rights under the Constitution and ECHR.
The State contended, while the ban may be unfair to Ms Fleming, it was a justified and proportionate measure necessary to protect vulnerable people from involuntary death.
Ms Fleming, who is confined to a wheelchair, was in court today with her partner Tom Curran and other members of her family to hear the decision. It is expected she will appeal the 120-page judgment of the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Paul Carney and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan to the Supreme Court.
Among the issues raised in the case was whether the rights to bodily autonomy, self-determination require provision for assisted suicide in circumstances such as those of Ms Fleming despite the public policy of preserving the right to life.
Another central issue was of equality before the law. Ms Fleming argued the blanket ban was discriminatory as it meant she, as a disabled person, could not be lawfully assisted take her own life when an able-bodied person could lawfully take their own life.
She had told the court Mr Curran is willing to help her end her life but she did not want him to be at risk of prosecution.
The court was told doctors believe Ms Fleming may die within months and is unlikely to live beyond two years.
Diagnosed with MS in 1986, her condition has deteriorated to a point where she is confined to a wheelchair with limbs paralysed, suffers acute pain and has difficulty swallowing. She fears she will ultimately be unable to communicate and will die a “horrible” death.