Ireland: Paralyzed Woman Can't Get Help to Die

Supreme Court rules against Marie Fleming

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 29, 2013 3:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – Marie Fleming, 59, is in the final stages of multiple sclerosis and is ready for a quiet death at home. Under Irish law, which decriminalized suicide in 1993, Fleming could legally take her own life—but her physical condition will not allow her to do so without assistance. So Fleming contested the country's ban on assisted suicide, arguing that she's being discriminated against as a person with a disability, but the Irish Supreme Court ruled against her today, the New York Times reports. Dublin's High Court ruled against her in January.

Fleming's partner, Tom Curran, is willing to help her take her life, but he would face a prison sentence of up to 14 years if convicted. The court ruled that though Fleming's circumstances are "tragic," the decriminalization of suicide did not necessarily grant a right to die, and the Irish constitution does not contain an "explicit right to commit suicide, or to determine the time of one’s own death." But Curran implied after the ruling that he may assist Fleming nonetheless. "The court has ruled on Marie’s future, as far as they’re concerned," he said, and when she's "had enough," then "the court will have the opportunity to decide on my future."

A Jan. 10, 2013 photo from files showing Marie Fleming, a terminally ill woman who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS).   (AP Photo/PA, Niall Carson)
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It’s very difficult to understand how a person with a disability can be deprived of something that’s legally available to everybody else, every able-bodied person. - Tom Curran

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