This is Tom Curran talking about his partner Marie Fleming’s right to die court case, the aims of Right To Die Ireland, and his own involvement in Exit International. Tom was speaking to the HAI in April 2013.
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This is Michael Nugent speaking on end of life care and the right to die at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in April 2013.
Mairin de Burca is a founder member of Right to Die Ireland. She is also a veteran of many feminist and other political campaigns in Ireland. In 1974 she won the equal right of women to sit on juries in Irish courts. In this article Mairin explains why she supports the right to die.
I cannot remember a time when I did not believe in the right of every individual to end their lives when and how they wished. I could not see how it was anyone else’s business to say to a person that they had no right over their own existence.
Life is not something we choose. It was given to us by our parents for various reasons of their own. If it becomes unbearable and there is no way to improve it, then ending it makes sense for some people. If there is a right to life, there must be a right to die at a time of one’s choosing.
The following is Marie Fleming’s witness statement to the Irish High Court, seeking to establish her right to die with peace and dignity. We have deleted details of Marie’s personal background and family that are unrelated to her illness and her legal argument, and we have deleted names of doctors and solicitors where they appear.
You can read here about Marie’s inspirational evidence in the High Court, where she calmly explained that she was at peace with the world, and that she was ready to die with dignity.
In this more complete affidavit sworn before she gave evidence, Marie describes the course of her illness to date, her current condition, the expected course of her disease, and her wishes for ending her life. She concludes:
“I do not wish to end my life immediately. However, I know that there will come a point when I will wish to do so. That time may, for example, be when I can no longer tolerate the pain in which I find myself; when I am wholly dependent on others for basic feeding or hydration so that someone has to put a sponge to my lips to give me water; when I have completely lost bowel or bladder control or both; when (as is possible with my condition) I lose my eyesight. I would in these or similar circumstances, arising from my terminal illness, wish to end my life. However, because of my disability I am unable to end my own life without assistance and, given the inexorably progressive nature of my illness, I will never be able to do so. I will therefore require assistance to end my own life.
I wish to stop living when I choose and I will know when that time is and, at that time, I will request that my life be ended. I know that my partner, Tom, is a person who would be willing to assist me in ending my own life at a time I decide, in order to reflect my wishes and to end my suffering. I want to know that I will be able to end my own life and that any person who might aid or abet me in the exercise of my autonomous free will will not face criminal prosecution were that person to help me to end my life with my consent and in accordance with my express wishes. I want to know that I can die at a time of my choosing in Tom’s arms and with my family around me, without the fear that any person would be subjected to criminal prosecution.”
One of the biggest misconceptions about the right to die is that it is merely about dying. Actually, most people who prepare to end their own lives, in case they need to, end up dying naturally. But, by knowing that they have the option to avoid suffering, they are free to increase their quality of life in the time they have left.
My wife Anne Holliday was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2009. Anne did not want to die, but nor did she fear death. She was grateful to have had enough notice of her death to be able to do many things that she wanted to do first.
Anne wanted to die peacefully and painlessly rather than have to suffer needlessly before dying. She had decided that, if she had reached that stage, she would have ended her own life and I would have have helped her to do this. Once she had made that decision, her quality of life soared and we were able to fully enjoy the time she had left.
Thankfully, Anne died suddenly but naturally, so we had the benefit of not having to worry about needless suffering at the end, but without her having to actually take the decision to end her life and carry it out.
Anne was committed to the campaign to legalise assisted peaceful dying in Ireland. She had spent most of her life campaigning on peace, justice, community and environmental issues. She saw the right to die as her final campaign, and I am continuing this on in her memory.
Right To Die Ireland is a campaign with three aims:
- Protecting the right to live
- Respecting the right to die, and
- Legalising assisted peaceful dying
for rational terminally or seriously ill people in Ireland.
Right To Die Ireland was founded by
- Tom Curran, whose partner Marie Curran has taken a High Court case and Supreme Court appeal seeking to establish her right to assisted dying as her MS makes her unable to end her own life
- Michael Nugent, whose wife Anne Holliday died of cancer in 2011 and who had made preparations to end her own life before dying naturally, as most people who make such preparations do
- Mairin de Burca, writer, social and political activist, and supporter of the right to assisted peaceful dying
If you would like to help the campaign to legalise assisted peaceful dying in Ireland, please let us know.