ROI woman found not guilty of assisted suicide

A woman in the Republic of Ireland who was charged with assisting in the suicide of her friend has been found not guilty.

Gail O’Rorke was accused of helping 51-year-old Bernadette Forde to die, in a case considered to be the first of its kind in the country.

Last week, O’Rorke was acquitted on two charges of assisting suicide and on Tuesday a jury delivered a not-guilty verdict on a third and final charge.


She was charged with three offences relating to ‘aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring’ the suicide of Forde, who had Multiple Sclerosis, between March and June 2011.

The court heard that O’Rorke, 43, had helped to obtain a lethal dose of medication for Forde by making a money transfer to Mexico.

She was also accused of attempting to arrange travel to the Dignitas clinic in Zurich and making funeral arrangements two days before Forde’s death.

No right to suicide

Forde was a member of pro-euthanasia organisation Exit International. According to reports, she had discussed her death with the group’s controversial leader Philip Nitschke.

In 2013, the Supreme Court in Ireland ruled that the country’s constitution does not uphold a right to suicide, or a right to help someone else commit suicide.

The ruling came as former university lecturer Marie Fleming, who also had MS, tried through the Irish courts to gain the right to have an assisted suicide.

Lord Falconer

Moves to legalise assisted suicide in England and Wales have been heavily criticised by parliamentarians, medical professionals and faith leaders.

Lord Falconer’s Bill, which was debated in the last Parliament, would have allowed patients to obtain lethal drugs if they were thought to have six months or less to live.

But in July last year, a disabled Peer in the House of Lords described the proposals as a “runaway train”, and said her experience of “progressive deterioration” shows there is “no situation that cannot be improved”.

Lord Falconer’s Bill did not complete its parliamentary stages before the General Election.

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