A controversial campaign to legalise doctor-assisted suicide and active euthanasia was launched in Cape Town on Thursday, spearheaded by the ethics Institute of South Africa (EthicsSA) and Dignity SA.The launch comes two weeks after the much-publicised return to South Africa of Dignity SA founder Sean Davison, following his five-month house arrest in New Zealand for assisting his aged mother to die. Davison, professor of forensics at the University of the Western Cape, was initially charged with attempted murder, but this was reduced to counselling and procuring attempted suicide”.Dignity SA is now running an online petition to garner support for the (legalisation of assisted dying.
This is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity,” Davison told the Mail & Guardian. “It takes brave thinking and brave decisions.” Davison added that he had received overwhelming support in both New Zealand and South Africa.
In a position paper released on Thursday, titled End of life decisions, ethics and the law, Professor Willem Landman, executive director of Ethics SA, calls for “statutory legal clarity and reform” in the areas of terminal pain management, life-sustaining treatment and assisted dying. “Competent persons have a moral right to make their own choices, including choices about their own continued life in clearly defined conditions, and to act upon these choices. We have an ethical obligation to respect that right,” writes Landman. Department of health spokesperson Fidel Hadebe was unable to comment on the current status of the draft Bill, but referred the M&G to the department of justice and constitutional development. “State law advisers may be in a better position to shed light on this matter,” Hadebe said.
(thanks to ERGO – from Mail and Guardian South Africa)