Yesterday was a momentous day in our country’s history – thank you all for making it the success it was. There are many people who contributed greatly to making this success possible, but at this stage I wish to express our overwhelming gratitude to Robin’s family and caregivers. Penelope, Rosanne and all the family gave Robin the incredible strength he needed to endure the suffering of the journey he chose.
When I visited Robin over Easter (3 weeks before the court case) he made it absolutely clear he was going to die on Wednesday 29th April, the day after the court hearing was originally scheduled. The court case was delayed one day – what a difference a day makes. The delay probably had greater emotional and physical impact on Robin than we can even start to imagine (Penelope can probably attest to this). It was as if he had decided how long he could hang on for, and that extra day was a day too far.
Robin was suffering terribly in the weeks leading up to the court hearing. Although desperate to die he was literally clinging on to life for the sake of a positive ruling and the consequences this would have on a law change, and for others who may find themselves in his position. This was an extraordinary act of courage, and an extraordinary gift to our humanity.
We still await further legal clarity about the judge’s ruling yesterday, especially in the context of Robin’s untimely death. However regardless of what the judge may say, or the outcome of any appeals, nothing can rewrite yesterday’s ground-breaking ruling – the high court ruled in favour of a terminally ill man to have a physician assisted death, even by lethal injection (something which is not permitted in Switzerland or the five USA states).
Although we can truly treasure this moment, this victory, our journey is far from over. DignitySA’s single objective is to have a bill passed by parliament to allow for assisted dying. When you seek a law a change you have to be prepared for the long haul – however yesterday’s ruling has surely significantly shortened our journey.
Once the events of the past few days have settled we will need to regroup and strategise the way forward.
With much gratitude to you all
Sean Davison, 1st of May 2015