A terminally ill woman fought back tears yesterday as judges in Ireland rejected her plea to be allowed to die peacefully at home in the arms of her loving partner.
Marie Fleming, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), is expected to appeal after she lost a landmark court case seeking someone to assist her suicide when she chooses without facing jail.
Three judges at the High Court in Dublin unanimously ruled they could not support allowing a third party to bring about the death of another.
But they agreed the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), in this of all cases, would exercise her discretion in a humane and sensitive fashion as to whether to prosecute or not.
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said: “This approach leaves the legislative ban intact while ensuring that the Director is afforded the fullest opportunity to consider what she may think are the special and extenuating factors arising from the harrowing experiences being endured by the plaintiff.
“But beyond this the court cannot and will not go.”
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.
Ms Fleming, a former university lecturer, had pleaded with a specially convened hearing to spare her a horrible death and let her be helped to die lawfully with dignity, surrounded by her family.
She held back tears and her partner, Tom Curran, clutched her hand tightly as Mr Justice Kearns, president of the High Court, read a summary of the 121-page ruling.
The judge said the 59-year-old had gallantly fought MS since she was first diagnosed with the disease in 1989.
“Her courage in adversity is both humbling and inspiring,” he told the court.
The judges accepted Ms Fleming’s body has been ravaged by the insidious disease to the point where she is now almost immobile, that her life has been rendered miserable and that she suffers great pain and distress.