How we die is a question that concerns every single mortal being. Recent events have put this question in the spotlight. In August 2014 Parliamentarian Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, terminally ill, in the last stages of lung cancer hastened his imminent death by shooting himself. Our revered Madiba lingered for months hooked up to machines after doctors declared him to be in “permanent vegetative state”. In July 2014 Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu declared himself to be in favour of assisted dying should he ever find himself terminally ill and/or in a situation of intractable, unbearable suffering.

On October 4th 2014 DignitySA, a group committed to lobbying for changes that address the question of dignity and quality of life when we are dying met with a panel of expert lawyers to plan our way forward.

It is sadly ironic that it was under Madiba’s tenure, as our first democratic President, that a South African Law Commission was appointed to look into issues pertaining to dying well. In 1999, the commission, chaired by the late Justice Mahomed published its findings and recommendations. It is unfortunate that this important document and its recommendations continue to languish on the shelves of Parliament.

This means that for the last 15 years the State has not fulfilled its Constitutional obligation to respect, protect and promote its citizens’ fundamental human rights (as contained in the Bill of Rights in Chapter 2 of the Constitution) to:

  • inherent dignity and to have their dignity respected and protected (Section 10 of the Bill of Rights)
  • life, in respect of which death is an undeniable and ultimate part (Section 11 of the Bill of Rights)
  • not be treated in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way (Section 12(1)(e) of the Bill of Rights)
  • bodily and psychological integrity and security and controlling of their bodies (Section 12(2) and 12(2)(b) of the Bill of Rights)

Hereinafter referred to collectively as “Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights”.

One of the measures that DignitySA will take is to approach the Ministers for Health, Justice and Constitutional Development, and Social Welfare and the respective Parliamentary Committees, to review the Law Commission Report and to reconsider in the light of recent developments both nationally and globally, those rights to personal dignity which would bring untold relief to untold numbers of our citizens who are terminally ill.

A second measure is to initiate a court case as DignitySA has been approached by several citizens who are terminally ill and distressed that their Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights won’t be respected, protected and promoted and that they will die without dignity.

DignitySA has therefore decided to collaborate with attorneys, counsel and senior counsel, who are offering their services pro bono, to bring a case to the High Court in the first quarter of 2015. This is a matter which concerns all South Africans whatever their age, race, gender or religion; on this basis DignitySA will endeavor to support a representative group of applicants.

Court cases can drag on, and it is possible that some of the applicants may die before the positive outcome in court that DignitySA anticipates. We therefor urge that parliamentarians act to take further the work completed in 1999 and expedite an urgent bill through parliament –thus making Dignity’s High court case redundant. This would be the first prize for all concerned and a positive and powerful step towards making our constitution live, even when people are dying.

DignitySA Executive Committee Members – 6th October 2014

Administration & Office:
Lee Last
lee@dignitysa.org
Cell 076 – 942 4477
Fax 021 – 959 1325

Dignity South Africa
PO Box 927
Cape Town 8000
South Africa

Thank you for your support!
Dignity South Africa – Legalise Assisted Dying | my life ~ my choice

16 thoughts on “DignitySA Executive Committee Members – 6th October 2014

  • 4 February 2015 at 13:14
    Permalink

    Hi all

    Mine is a question. I was wondering about patient assisted suicide (PAS) with people with severe depression. I have had depression for about 10 years now and have been in and out of hospitals and clinics. I am on anti-depressants and I have ok days but none where I feel like life itself is worth it. When I bring it up with doctors they get worried about me and want to put me on different programmes (most that I have been through before) or they want to hospitalise me again. I wonder about PAS because the pain I live with daily is as unfair as patients living with pain from their illnesses. I have never wanted to write and ask about it because I feel like I will either be discriminated against because people don’t see my situation as dire or I’m going to get messages for people worried about my health.
    Anyway, I was just wondering what the position was regarding PAS and depression.

    Kind Regards

    Tracey

    Reply
  • 31 January 2015 at 18:06
    Permalink

    Totally supporter

    Reply
  • 2 January 2015 at 11:32
    Permalink

    My Mom has C.O.P.D and has been asking me (her only daughter ,my younger sister died tragically a few months ago) to give her something because she wants to die for the last 14 months! From a proud dignified independant person to someone hooked up to an oxygen machine, in nappies, bedbound, and weighs 29kgs. I wnt to my G.P and begged him on two occasions. I begged my Moms own G.P and physician. Eventually together , i let her take ten sleeping tablets that we had saved hoping that would do the job. As i lay with her thru the night , she just had terrible dreams , and was fine in the morning. The suffering and mind blowing depression is something that can not be described. I am so desperate for he i have discussed putting a pillow over her head- but deep down i dont have the courage-and i told her this. Years ago her own huby was at home with cancer of the lung. Thank God his G.P arranged some morphine syrup for me to administer-two tablespoons later he died peacefully.

    Just being able to share the story is a help , and obviously am in full support of your organization. Will make a contribution as soon as i have some spare bucks, at the moment all is going to keep my Mom at home in her own environment -a promise i made to her.

    Regards
    Sue Singleton

    Reply
    • 8 March 2015 at 20:51
      Permalink

      Dear Sue. How absolutely heartbreaking! I’m so sorry for your Mom’s suffering and that you have to witness it. My heart goes out to you both.

      Should your Mom wish, we could launch an urgent application to the High Court on her behalf. It wouldn’t cost her anything and she wouldn’t need to appear in court. Should you wish to discuss this, or anything else, please feel free to contact me.

      Warm regards
      Lee

      Reply
  • 3 December 2014 at 17:03
    Permalink

    I am a cancer patient and my worst fear is the proses of dying, the suffering and pain. The oncolists keep on telling me it is not so bad but I have seen all my family die terrible deaths.
    Please help

    Reply
    • 8 March 2015 at 20:56
      Permalink

      Dear Ansoria

      So very sorry to hear about your cancer. I can only imagine the fear you must experience and it breaks my heart. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you want to discuss anything or if you have any queries regarding becoming an Applicant should you become terminal.

      Sincere apologies for the delay in responding. Somehow missed this comment.

      Warm regards
      Lee

      Reply
      • 26 February 2016 at 11:47
        Permalink

        Hi Lee
        I am a friend of Ansoria’s. She died little over a week ago after suffering quite a lot for about six weeks. In the end she went peacefully in her sleep, in her own bed. I am grateful that she didn’t suffer more, but I am heartbroken at the loss of my best friend.
        Just thought I’d let you know.
        Leoni

        Reply
        • 26 February 2016 at 11:50
          Permalink

          Hi Leoni
          Thank you for letting me know – really appreciated. I’m so sorry for your loss, but pleased that her passing was peaceful and that she suffers no more. My thoughts are with you.
          Lee

          Reply
  • 27 October 2014 at 19:16
    Permalink

    I am SO grateful to be a member and trust that the legal changes can be made. I am sorry that I can’t afford to pay in more money. I am 100% supportive.

    Reply
  • 23 October 2014 at 13:37
    Permalink

    Am in full support of this

    Reply
  • 20 October 2014 at 17:17
    Permalink

    I have worked with people who are terminally and at one time strongly advocated for the right to die with dignity. I support your cause and would like to be actively involved. Can we discuss?

    Reply
    • 20 October 2014 at 18:08
      Permalink

      Dear Prof. We would be delighted if you would be willing to become actively involved. Please write to me (Lee) at lee@dignitysa.org with a short bio in order that I can introduce you to the board and see where best your experience can be put to use. Thank you, so very much!

      Reply
  • 11 October 2014 at 13:14
    Permalink

    Its almost 17 months since my mom passed away and there is not a week that pass by without me getting horrific nightmares about my mother’s last 6months on earth. While she was in a coma the last week there were three instances where she would cry out ‘Help’ and ‘Eina’….. this terrifies me because I cannot begin to understand the amount of pain she must have had. I really try not to think of the pain full memories, but as we all know that parents and children is the closest people to one’s heart and nobody deserves to see your loved one in so much pain….. this will haunt me for the rest of my life… xxxxx hope something can be done.

    Reply
  • 10 October 2014 at 22:05
    Permalink

    Dear J.J.E. I just want to add that your story has touched me deeply and the mere fact that you are willing to help your Mom the way you are is testimony to the manner of man you are. I’m sure that despite the indignity, pain and fear she is experiencing, she recognises your love and caring and is deeply grateful. I can see that, from the other side of a computer screen, and have absolutely no doubt that she can too. Your compassion for your mother is palpable and reduced me to tears.

    I am available to chat either via email, lee@dignitysa.org, or phone (076 – 942 4477) at any time, and have access to professionals who can give you some moral support, help and psychological guidance, should you want or need it.

    Warm regards
    Lee

    Reply
  • 9 October 2014 at 02:08
    Permalink

    In early November 2013, my mom who still kept a perminent full time jjob, complained of not being able to breathe properly and after numerous visits to the doctor was given an asthma pump as it was thought that years of smoking or whatever had caused her lungs to be a little weakened.By December it was discovered that ,after sum X-rays were taken, thatmymom had a lung half-way full of water and was immediately rushed to hospital to drain the lung of fluids and for further tests.
    On 19 January 2014, I was with her at the specialist who confirmed our worst fears had not only come true, it was an advanced stage 4 lung cancer.Only a year earlier, we had to deal with Osteoporosis, and now this!
    As I speak, in sitiing at home with my mom , it is 1:35am exactly.She refuses to sleep, especially at night.Her Worst fear is dying when no-one is around to assist her.This was nearly a reality in a very expensive and private hospital.Through-out this time,I have seen my moms mental health, dignity and self-worth (everything that she’s worked her entire life for) been taken from her because of this cancer.Even before we had been diagnosed, I was aware of assisted-suicide via media and movies.If Life is a gift, then surely death should be a choice?
    My mom becomes more confused and angry and sad and even more scared with each passing day as she refuses to be beaten, when all through her life she has struggled and succeeded to not only raise three children and take care of a household, but all of this with barely a standard 4 certificate.Did I say that she also ensures the bills are paid, her car is maintained, husband spoilt and that her house was paid off?
    To me, my mom is nothing less than an inspiration, a blessing and an awesome friend to many!
    Currently, I am pondering how to help her pass on to the next part of her souls journey.To see the embarrassed look in her eyes as I help to change her (dare I say diaper) is far more than she deserves.I would gladly pay any price to help her be remembered with all the dignity and respect.she so rightly craves and deserves.She will be 65y/i on 24 November,and since I’ve always been too much of a selfish person to ever get her a decent gift either for Christmas or any any other special day of her life, maybe I could finally help her now.As she would always say when out having drinks with friends, “One for the road…and then i’m staying”
    She is now at home, once again, with a syringe driver thing.There is more than 2litres of morphine here, sum Adco-alzam, and Ativan tablets.The morphine is only 20mg/5ml.Could you please direct me to a safe place which could allow us the correct dose of meds to take?

    Gratefully
    J.J.E.

    Reply
    • 10 October 2014 at 10:04
      Permalink

      Dear J.J.E., thank you so much for sharing your absolutely heartbreaking story. Please contact me, thank you.
      lee@dignitysa.org

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: