Ireland has some of the strictest laws in Europe when it comes to euthanasia and a person’s right to die. Euthanasia is the act of deliberately ending a life to relieve suffering. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in Ireland, and if carried out can lead to a manslaughter charge or a murder charge.
In 1995, the first of these cases came to light in Ireland. The case involved a women who had been in a vegetative state for over two decades, and was appealing for assisted suicide. The court allowed her feeding tube to be removed and thus the women to die naturally. Nevertheless the court said “Though permission was given to remove the woman’s feeding tube so she could die naturally, the court stressed that it would not condone any attempt to end a person’s life through positive action.”
There have been very few cases in the Irish courts over assisted suicide and euthanasia. One such case took place in 2013. Marie Fleming had suffered with multiple sclerosis (MS) for many years. Sadly as the years went on Marie’s quality of life declined. So Marie and her partner Tom Curran brought her case to the High Court in Dublin. In April 2013, Marie lost her court case for her right to die. The Irish Examiner reported “There is no constitutional right to commit suicide or to arrange for termination of one’s own life at a time of one’s choosing that the State and courts must protect and vindicate, Chief Justice Ms Justice Susan Denham, said. ”
Last year I spoke to Marie Fleming’s partner Tom Curran and he recalled some of the moments of Marie’s life. Have a listen below.
Radio Documentary – Marie Fleming : One woman’s right to die. *Play button on left of link.
Marie’s courage and determination in the courts has proved helpful to others fighting for their right to die. In April 2015, Gail O’Rourke was found not guilty for trying to assist her friend in dying. Her friend, Bernadette Forde who also suffers from MS, wanted to travel to Dignitas, a clinic in Zurich to end her life. The trip was cancelled after gardaí were informed.
The battle for assisted suicide and euthanasia continues in this country with passionate advocates for both sides. The HSE illustrate both sides of this argument.
For Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide
“An ethical argument: according to the widely accepted ethical principle of respect for autonomy (freedom of choice), people should have the right to control their own body and life (as long as they do not abuse any other person’s rights), and the state should not create laws that prevent citizens being able to choose when and how they die”
Against Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide
“The slippery slope argument is based on the idea that once a healthcare service, and by extension the government, starts killing its own citizens, a line is crossed that should have never been crossed and a dangerous precedent has been set. The concern is that a society that allows voluntary euthanasia will then gradually change its attitudes to include non-voluntary and then involuntary euthanasia.”