Assisted dying application goes before high court

2015-04-29 11:13
Dignity SA member Patsy Schonegevel stands outside the North Gauteng High Court holding a picture of her son Craig. (Thomas Hartleb, News24)

Dignity SA member Patsy Schonegevel stands outside the North Gauteng High Court holding a picture of her son Craig. (Thomas Hartleb, News24)

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Ambrosini's death highlights assisted dying debate

2014-08-21 08:21

After it was announced IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini took his own life, issues around assisted dying are being debated in South Africa. Dignity SA's Helena Dolny answered our questions. Watch.WATCH

Pretoria - People suffering from terminal diseases should lawfully be allowed to end their lives in a dignified manner, a member of Dignity SA said on Wednesday ahead of an urgent application before the High Court in Pretoria.

Robert Stransham-Ford, 65, is appearing in court where he will be bringing an urgent application, opposed by Doctors for Life, to be able to legally end his life. He has terminal prostate cancer.

Dignity SA supports his application.

"We really believe South Africa should change its laws. We should have death with dignity. If you speak to people that have been suffering they'll understand this," Patsy Schonegevel said.

She began crying as she spoke of her son, Craig.

‘No one should suffer against their wishes’

At the age of 1 Craig was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, commonly known as Elephant Man disease.

By the age of 28 and after years of operations, he told his mother he did not want to carry on living.

The family gave him their blessing to go to Dignitas in Switzerland to die. They paid more than R33 000 but were then told he needed to go for more operations.

Craig returned to South Africa and committed suicide in September 2009.

She stood outside the court on Wednesday holding up a poster with Craig's face on it which read "No one should have to suffer against their wishes".

Another poster read "An assisted dying law would not result in more people dying but in fewer people suffering".

Lethal injection ‘could cause violent convulsions’

TimesLive reported last Tuesday that in court papers, Stransham-Ford had asked that the doctor who assists him be protected from criminal sanction, losing his doctor’s licence or being sued.

Doctors for Life was opposing the application stating that using a lethal injection as is done in the state of Oregon in America could cause violent convulsions and the patient’s family was often asked to leave the room due to the undignified manner in which they respond to the injection.

Stransham-Ford was friends with IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, who took his own life in August last year.

"Mario was in the last stages of terminal lung cancer and decided to end his long battle of suffering," his family said in the statement at the time.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  legislation

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