Friday, 18 January 2013

Marie Fleming and the right to die with dignity

Pic: PA
For you and me, sitting here in the best of health - or near enough - it is impossible to imagine the thoughts and emotions of Marie Fleming, the 59-year-old woman who is slowly dying from Multiple Sclerosis.

Marie recently lost her High Court case to secure her right to die an assisted, dignified death; having explained to the court how her life "had become totally undignified and too painful to bear". 

Her hope was that if someone assisted her put an end to her suffering, as she was not able to do so herself, they would not be prosecuted.

Given the inherently conservative nature of Irish society, still informed as it is by residual religious dogma (Reuters reports refer to "mainly Roman Catholic Ireland"), the court said no. It cited the default slippery slope/opening the floodgates argument of those opposed to other forms of rationality and social progress.

So, if Marie dies naturally she will, most likely, in her own words:

"choke to death, where my swallow would stop and then the saliva would dribble out of my mouth or choke me to death."

How must it feel for Marie, waiting for this to happen? Living, as she does, in a country that is not progressive or humane enough to allow her avoid it?

How better it would be for her to live in Belgium,  where euthanasia is an option for the terminally ill.   All out in the open, no nod-and-a-wink, as it is in Ireland.  Hoping your doctor has the moral courage, and has the compassion, to give  you an extra shot of morphine to end it for you - in defiance of the official position that you should simply suffer. 

Maybe in time Ireland will catch up, and allow euthanasia for its terminally ill citizens.  Marie Fleming's brave attempt to win this right will have been the first step, as Sarah Wootton of Dignity in Dying said:

"Dignity in Dying campaigns for a change in the law on assisted dying in Britain. Nevertheless, compassion, dignity and choice in dying are universal issues and we monitor progress towards more compassionate laws in other countries with interest. 

"This result is disappointing, but sadly not unexpected. I commend Marie's courage in working to change the law in Ireland and am pleased that they intend to appeal this ruling.  When the law does change in Ireland it will be in no small part due to the courage and determination of Marie and others like her who do not accept the status quo which forces some people to suffer against their wishes at the end of life.

"In 2013 we will see Assisted Dying Bills in Westminster, Holyrood and across the channel in the French Parliament.  With these parliamentary attempts to change the law, cases like Marie Fleming's in Ireland and Gloria Taylor's legacy in Canada, we hope this year will be one of progress in end of life choice for people across the globe."  

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DB said...

Yes GM. You dont have to make the tragic journey to Switzerland if you live in Belgium or the Netherlands and nor do you have to undergo unnessary suffering. In Britain the DPP takes a flexible view of assisted suicide but that is not the answer. It is subjective, what if the DPP is a born again christian or devout catholic? The Belgian and Dutch systems are far better.

DC3 said...

Sad fact is, Ireland is too immature to make any decision of any worth, about anything. As a population there is no genuine empathy towards others - and guess what, such a fine trait is becoming ever more lacking. You can see the symptoms on the street everyday. Sociopathy is on the increase in Ireland, BIG TIME.

It does not and can not, trust itself as a cutural entity to make a decision. (Drive the roads) It always was nod and a wink, it always will be. It's sad when individuals such as the brave Marie Fleming gets caught up in the Wrecking Ball which is EIRE. (New Capitalist Laboratory, by the way).

The Gombeen Man said...

Yep folks... a country based on the aul nod'n'wink.

See how clearcut Belgian law is:

"To make a legitimate euthanasia request, the patient must be an adult, must be conscious and legally competent at the moment of making the request, and must be in a condition of constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering resulting from a serious and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident, for which medical treatment is futile and there is no possibility of improvement."

Marie, and others like her, get a raw deal in Ireland... as if things are not bad enough for them.