Waterford woman’s moving appeal for change in the law
A Waterford woman diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2012 is committed to making a legal challenge with the support of the partner of the late Marie Fleming, who lost her own ‘Right To Die’ Supreme Court case in 2013.
Speaking to The Munster Express, Lismore native Kate Tobin said that Tom Curran has pledged to assist her efforts to seek a change in the law so that she, and others with terminal illnesses, can legally make the decision to end their lives.
“If the Right To Die came into law tomorrow, I wouldn’t want to go ahead with this as soon as I could,” said the 50-year-old nurse, now living in a specially modified home in Clonroche, County Wexford.
“I would wait until it got worse, until the MS reached the stage where I was having trouble swallowing – and that might be something I’ll be facing into in the next 12 months.”
“I am not going to get better; I will continue to deteriorate to the point that I will not be able to communicate with anyone, and that is a terrible thing to have hanging over you. I’ve lost a lot of my mobility now; I’ve been largely confined to a wheelchair for the past four months and my MS is progressing quite rapidly…and I believe I should have the right to end the pain I know I am going to go through.”
Ms Tobin’s health, she stated, is additionally suffering due to the debt she is currently attempting to address. “I am €10,000 in debt, and right now, I don’t have the money to pay for my funeral. My wish is to be buried with my parents in Lismore, but I don’t know how I am going to able to pay for that as things stand.”
She added: “I had to spend €4000 on specially adapted furniture for my house last year and I am trying to survive on €193.50 a week. This debt is putting me under even more pressure and is having a further toll on my declining health. I think the debt might kill me before the MS does…
“This time last year, I could get around with a walking stick; now I need an aid when I can manage a few steps but most of the time now I am in a wheelchair. And I know what’s coming for me. And it’s a horrible feeling.”
She continued: “To have Tom Curran’s support has been wonderful; he saw at first had what Marie went through and how she suffered. And John Halligan has brought this up in the Dáil. and that has got people talking about the right to die.”
Waterford TD John Halligan (Ind), who has led the calls for the introduction of ‘Right To Die’ legislation in the 31st Dáil, will be raising the topic once more via the Dying With Dignity Bill which he began moving through the Lower House last year.
“People who fight to live and want to survive should be given the opportunity and all the help they require,” Deputy Halligan told the Dáil on December 15th last.
“But a small percentage of people are unable to bear the suffering and they also should be allowed to have a dignified death.”
Deputy Halligan continued: “At all times safeguards must be met to show the terminally ill person has reached their decision on an informed basis and without coercion or duress.”
He also believes that any doctor with a conscientious objection to the matter, if it were legislated for, would not be legally compelled to participate in an assisted death.
Kate Tobin added: “I’m on 42 tablets a day – I take 16 at breakfast time every morning – and get an injection every second day. I wish Enda Kenny could live my life – I doubt if he’d be able to stick it for 12 hours. There is little in my life to enjoy now, and very little left to look forward to due to MS…
“I want the right to die. I want the choice to end my suffering – and I wouldn’t wish my suffering on anyone – why can’t I have that right? The bit of quality I have left in my life is something I will do my utmost to make the best of, but I, and other people with terminal illness, who don’t face a moment of each day without pain, should have that right. I have to keep trying while I can, and knowing I have Tom in my corner is a huge consolation to me.”