Decriminalising assisted suicide could lead to involuntary deaths, expert tells court

Marie Fleming

An expert in palliative care has told the High Court today that decriminalising assisted suicide could lead to involuntary deaths particularly among the sick and the elderly.

Professor Robert George of Guy's Hospital in London is giving evidence in the case of Marie Fleming, a terminally ill woman with multiple sclerosis, who wishes to end her life in the presence of her partner at home in Arklow, Co Wicklow.

State witness Professor George believes involuntary deaths are "absolutely probable" where assisted suicide is decriminalised.

The medical expert considers the risks from decriminalisation are high and that it would prove a hazard to vulnerable groups such as the sick, the elderly and persons with depression.

He says there would be a slippery slope towards normalisation and while it's not about malicious people out to kill grandma there may be subconscious coercion placed on those who may feel they are a burden.

He told the court assisted suicide is not the same as suicide as it involves another moral agent and they won't know how they may feel having carried out something so enormous.

Marie Fleming has brought this legal challenge as she wants to end her life but fears her partner Tom Curran will be prosecuted if he helps her to die.

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