Three more apply for assisted suicide
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Cape Town - Three more terminally ill patients are set to take their pleas for assisted suicide to the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria, following in the footsteps of Robin Stransham-Ford, who achieved a successful ruling in that court recently, but not before dying.
Dignity SA spokesperson Lee Last said the organisation, which supported Stransham-Ford, was preparing three new cases with the aim to change the constitutional law to allow assisted suicides for terminally ill people.
“These are urgent matters and they will be presented in court soon,” Last said.
Dignity SA was protecting applicants’ identities from the media.
Judge Hans Fabricius granted the order two hours after Stransham-Ford died on April 30.
Fabricius has since refused an application by the government to rescind the order, saying the Constitutional Court is best equipped to make a ruling on the matter.
The government is expected to apply for leave to appeal against that judgment on June 2.
Dignity SA founder Professor Sean Davison said: “Parliament is guided by the courts. We cannot have the one saying you will go to jail for assisted deaths and the other saying it can be allowed.”
Davison – who served a five-month detention in New Zealand in 2010 after he helped his 85-year-old mother in an assisted suicide – said Dignity SA aims to keep the momentum going.
“I have no doubt even more patients will come forward,” Davison said.
That reality has now become a bane for the Department of Justice and Correctional Services.
“We feared more people would come forward, and our stance has not changed. We have the same reservations, but each case has its own merits,” said spokesperson advocate Mthunzi Mhaga.
The SA Medical Association (Sama) has since moved to discourage doctors from taking part in “physician-assisted suicides”.
Sama vice-chairman Mark Sonderup said: “The central ethical tenet for physicians is quite clear: doctors are there to preserve the sanctity of life.”