Ruling a ‘gift to the ill who want to die’
Cape Town - Terminally ill advocate Robin Stransham-Ford may not have benefited from the ruling that would allow someone to help him die, but his battle was a gift to others who wanted to die with the dignity he fought for so furiously, Dignity SA chairman Professor Sean Davison said.
Davison, who was in jail in New Zealand for helping his terminally ill mother die, revealed on Friday that Stransham-Ford was in “great pain, and died with a great loss of dignity”.
But he was fighting for a change to the law, “and his death is a gift to our humanity”, said Davison.
Stransham-Ford’s death on Thursday came just before Pretoria High Court Judge Hans Fabricius made the unprecedented ruling which would have allowed him to have either a willing doctor or himself administer a lethal agent to help him die.
But Judge Fabricius warned that it was not a “free-for all” type ruling, and that no doctor could be obliged to help someone end their life.
He also ruled the order only applied to the advocate’s case, and any future applications would be decided on the merits of each case.
Davison said the advocate had supported the late IFP MP Mario Ambrosini’s controversial campaign to have marijuana legalised.
Ambrosini died of lung cancer.
Davison helped end his mother’s life nine years ago. When he handed her 18 crushed morphine tablets in a glass of water, he had fought for assisted death to be legalised under the banner of Dignity SA.
He said Stransham-Ford, 65, had died surrounded by his family and former partner and caregiver Penelope Stransham-Ford.
Davison described Stransham-Ford as an “incredibly kind, highly intelligent” man who was a “workaholic”. He leaves his daughter, 12.
Meanwhile, it was reported on Friday that opposing parties in the case, the ministers of Justice and Health, will on Monday submit an application for leave to appeal against the order once they receive Judge Fabricius’s reasons for his ruling.
It was reported that Justice spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga had said the order had far-reaching implications in terms of the Constitution, which could impact on the prosecuting powers of the National Prosecuting Authority.
But Davison said they would fight any appeal against the ruling to see terminally ill patients be allowed to have a dignified death.