Ireland: Marie Fleming lastest to lose assisted suicide appeal


Terminally ill Diane Pretty (L), with her husband Brian, was denied the right-to-die by the European Court of Human Rights in 2002.


Michael Crabtree

Marie Fleming of Ireland lost her Supreme Court appeal for the right-to-die on Monday.

The landmark case, which challenged the country's assisted suicide ban, ended with the ruling that Ireland's constitution "does not import a right-to-die."

Chief Justice Susan Denham said there is “no explicit right to commit suicide, or to determine the time of one’s own death.”

Though suicide is no longer a crime in Ireland - it was decriminalized in 1993 - helping someone commit suicide comes with a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Fleming is terminally ill and suffering in the final stages of multiple sclerosis. She can no longer move her body, head or swallow. Due to health issues Fleming was not in the courtroom, though her family, including her partner Tom Curran, were present to hear the verdict.

Fleming's ruling is the latest in a number of cases that have challenged a nation's ban on assisted suicide. For example, Paul Lamb of the UK is taking on the ban, and his case will be heard in the Court of Appeal on May 14 and 15.

Lamb said in a statement in April: "I hope that this is the next step towards the ultimate goal of changing this cruel law, which keeps people like me alive when I want to have a dignified death. To be given this chance of being involved in the case makes me very proud."

In Europe, assisted suicide is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.