I was contacted by one of our supporters last week who voiced concern regarding a post in which I mentioned that people were contacting us for more information about the “Mexican drug” Avron used to hasten his death.
Her concerns were valid and appreciated. I promised I’d do a post on purchasing drugs from overseas and the dangers attached thereto. This is that post.

It wasn’t a “Mexican drug” that Avron purchased. It was just that it was easier to obtain via Mexico than anywhere else.

A typical response to a request from someone asking for details about the drug would read as follows:

“Regarding your query as to the drug Avron used and how he obtained it, it would be remiss of me not to warn you that it is extremely dangerous to order drugs online, for various reasons. Firstly, you could get into trouble with the law, as it is illegal to smuggle narcotics into the country.
Secondly and perhaps more importantly for someone desperate to die, the drugs could leave you in a worse state than what you are currently in. You could fall into a coma and vomit half of the drug out, leaving just enough in your system to render you paralysed or worse.

We do not know exactly who Avron ordered the drugs from, but please be warned that scams abound:

  • drugs are ordered and paid for and not delivered (US$ 700)
  • the drug is not the real deal
  • the drug is impure or watered down

It’s very, very risky. Avron got lucky.

If you are terminally ill and serious about wanting to end your suffering, could I rather recommend that you allow our legal team to put together an urgent application to the High Court for the right to an assisted death?
Their draft documents are already complete (thanks to Avron) and you would only need to obtain some medical reports before they would be ready to lodge an application. This way, you could hopefully be granted the right to a safe, legal and gentle death and, at the same time, assist our cause and make legal history.

Our legal team are kindly working pro bono but there is likely to be a bill for disbursements of approximately ZAR 5000. We are looking at establishing a Fund for legal fees for those who are unable to afford it.”

The only country one can go to in order to receive an assisted death, legally, is Switzerland – an organisation called Dignitas. It’s a very laborious process, requiring many, many legal forms and medical reports and also costs a small fortune (around ZAR 200k). These costs include airfares, disposing of the remains/ repatriating the body, etc. One would also need to either be diagnosed as terminally ill or be suffering intractably, confirmed by medical professionals.

We are likely to go to court later this month on behalf of one of our Applicants – if he lives long enough. Sadly, so far, all our Applicants have died before we get to court.

May I be frank about Assisted Dying?
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6 thoughts on “May I be frank about Assisted Dying?

  • 15 May 2015 at 20:04

    I commend you for the great work you are doing on behalf of all of us. Interestingly even your most ardent opposers will use the opportunity to die with dignity if they need to – the opportunity created by your constitutional challenges.

    I find it appaling that our rights and freedoms are controlled and limited by others who believe they have a moral imperative to save us from ourselves. The issues that Dignity SA struggle with go much further than assisted dying or assisted suicide because it encompasses all other rights guaranteed under our constitution.

    We must fight for our rights and demand absolute freedom.

  • 15 April 2015 at 13:48

    Unbelievable, mankind hasn’t been able to ‘solve’ this ultimately important humanity issue in the whole world – until today!

    • 16 April 2015 at 08:13

      It’s very possible, the way things are going, that within the next decade, half the western world will have some sort of assistance at end-of-life should it be their choice.

  • 13 April 2015 at 19:48

    I am not personally in the position at this stage, of needing to die with dignity. This is however a deeply held conviction of mine. Such a decision would be taken should I no longer have somebody to love, something to do and something to look forward to (in the words of Viktor Frankl). Should physical and/or mental suffering result in a life that has become intolerable, I would make use of whatever assistance that may be available. I believe that just knowing this is possible would be of immense consolation. All strength to you all at DignitySA.

    • 16 April 2015 at 20:41

      Thank you Carole for sharing your view – well said. It has been shown that people in Oregon who are approved for an assisted death feel empowered and strengthened by the knowledge that if their suffering becomes too much, they have an alternative option and tend, as a result, to rally. Many don’t even end up using the drug. Just knowing is enough.

  • 9 April 2015 at 21:28

    Based on experience gained from trying to raise money for conservation initiatives in deep-rural communities I agree that people quite often do not put their money where their mouth is. However please just keep in mind that there are also many people, including myself, who would gladly give money and their active support if, in fact, they had the money or physical strength to do so.
    I support DignitySA 100%.

    Everyone has the right to die with dignity. This right is so fundamental to our humanity I can hardly believe that much of our politics and medical science appears geared to prolonging atrocious suffering rather than providing one of the greatest blessings life can give – a gentle death.

    As for the right to live with dignity – so many millions of people never have the opportunity to exercise this right. At the very least organisations like DignitySA could provide the opportunity for people to choose the manner and time of a death with dignity even if they have never had the chance to live with dignity.

    Personally I can think of no more comforting thought than knowing I can leave this life with my dignity AND my love of life intact.


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