Johannesburg - The Health Professions Council of SA is appealing against a recent court decision giving a terminally ill man the right to get a doctor to help him die.
Three months ago, the Pretoria High Court gave cancer patient Robin Stransham-Ford the go-ahead to get a doctor to help him die.
But council president Professor Samuel Mokgokong said the council had joined the ministers of justice and health in appealing against the decision as assisted suicide was “unethical”.
“Assisted suicide is unacceptable, whether or not it is performed at a patient’s request,” Mokgokong told the annual conference of the Board of Healthcare Funders on Wednesday.
“But assisting a dying person to get the necessary medicine to alleviate their pain in the terminal phase is important,” said Mokgokong.
Dr Mzukisi Grootboom, the chairman of the SA Medical Association, agreed with Mokgokong, saying that “doctors should never use their medical skill to assist patients to commit suicide”.
But Grootboom also stressed that doctors must also respect terminally ill patients’ right to refuse life-prolonging treatment.
Both Mokgokong and Grootboom stressed that assisted suicide could be abused as it was a cheaper, and easier, option than proper care.