Doctors for Life disappointed in assisted suicide ruling

2015-05-01 08:57
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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Johannesburg - Doctors for Life International (DFL) has expressed disappointment in Judge Hans Fabricius's judgment in an assisted suicide case on Thursday.

"It is not reasonable to introduce radical legislation on the perceived needs of a minority that could end up being lethal for the majority of the population.

"It is setting a dangerous double standard to say suicide under certain conditions is acceptable while discouraging suicide as a whole."

DFL was considering appealing Fabricius's refusal to admit it as a party in proceedings and only admitting the organisation as a friend of the court (amicus curiae).

Ruling

On Thursday, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that terminally ill Robin Stransham-Ford had the right to commit suicide with a doctor’s help.

Fabricius said: "The applicant is entitled to be assisted by a medical practitioner either by the administration of a lethal agent or by providing the applicant with the necessary lethal agent to administer himself."

He said he would provide reasons for the judgment on Monday.

Hours after the court granted permission, a statement was released by Dignity SA informing that the former advocate had "died peacefully of natural causes". The organisation had assisted Stransham-Ford with the application.

DFL sent its condolences to Stransham-Ford's family.

Vulnerable

It said people who were terminally ill were at a very vulnerable stage at their lives and often went through periods of depression, which was often overlooked, but treatable.

"DFL would like to discourage organisations from using people at such vulnerable periods to gain publicity and to promote their agenda.

The organisation highlighted South Africa's fifth-place ranking amongst countries with the highest prevalence of suicide.

The national health department was battling an epidemic of teenage suicide, it said.

"How are we going to prevent the spread of suicide contagion and discourage suicide amongst teenagers who feel that their life is unbearable, for whatever reasons, while at the same time send out an official message that suicide for some is acceptable.

"DFL is disappointed that this European trend which is so foreign to the African way of thinking is being forced onto our society by a small minority," it said.

Read more on:    robin stransham-ford  |  pretoria

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