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March 10, 2024

Ireland Misses Crucial Opportunity

Ireland has missed a precious opportunity to do things differently says Exit International director, Philip Nitschke.

Despite Exit directors Tom Curran and Philip Nitschke appearing before the all party parliamentary committee at the Oireachtas inquiry into assisted dying, and despite taking great care and time to explain the Swiss human rights model of the right to die, the Irish committee has blindly recommended the short-sight medical model of countries such as the US, Australia and New Zealand.

In speaking about the Committee’s recommendations, Tom Curran said that the proposal fails the ‘Marie Test’.

Marie Fleming (Tom’s life partner) had MS. In 2013 she took multiple cases to Ireland’s Supreme and High Courts.

Marie argued that she was being discriminated against because she could not take her own life, like an able-bodied person could have.

Tom and Marie in happier days

The point that Tom is making with Marie’s Test is as follows.

The Committee has recommended that assisted suicide (and euthanasia) be available to terminally ill people who doctors say have < 6 months to live.

If a patient has a neurological condition, then they must be deemed as having < 12 months to live.

None of Marie’s neurology specialists were ever prepared to say how long she had to live.

She was told she may have 2 years or 20 years. Marie would not therefore be able to use this new law – if it passes the parliament – to die.

Tom and Marie attending court

The likes of Marie, therefore, remain discriminated against, despite her years of advocacy and speaking out.

Only if the Irish Committee had recommended the Swiss model would Marie’s Test have been satisfied.

In Switzerland, assisted suicide is framed in terms of being a human right available to all: as long as the person has mental capacity and does the action which brings about the death themselves.

This means that a person need not be terminally ill with < 6 months to live etc.

For example, the 104-year old Ecologist, Professor David Goodall, was old but not sick.

Only in Switzerland get lawful help to die.

Making seriously ill people qualify for help to die is deeply cruel and inhumane.

Making the medical profession the arbiters of who gets a good death is unfair and unacceptable.

This is why the Irish Committee’s proposals are so disappointing.

History will not be kind to this type of short-sighted and deeply inequitable policy making.