1. 1. DignitySA supported Adv. Robin Stransham-Ford in his High Court application to have his constitutional right to assisted dying respected. We did so from the deep conviction that he had constitutional rights to human dignity and freedom to bodily and psychological integrity. We believe that all South Africans suffering from terminal pain and distress are being illegitimately denied these rights. This constitutes intolerable cruelty and injustice.
  2. 2. Following Justice Fabricius’s ruling, we believe that public debate will be well served by an effort by all participants to engage seriously, honestly and constructively with his ruling, and therefore also with the authoritative sources on which he relied – the Constitution, case law, the South African Law Reform Commission’s 1998 report and draft bill, constitutional lawyers, tested safeguards (such as in Oregon), the Carter case in Canada, and the like.
  3. 3. We live and develop public policy in a constitutional democracy. In this context, we have noted the contributions to the public debate by the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. We are indeed deeply concerned about their apparent stubborn refusal to engage openly with serious arguments regarding the interpretation of the Constitution. The Constitution should be the final arbiter in this debate, but the ministers have not given any unambiguous indication that they recognise the status of the Constitution in this regard.
  4. 4. Indeed, there is understandable public disagreement about questions such as the following – balancing the right to dignity and the right to life; freedom of choice; legitimate limits of medical practitioners’ professional duties; whether suicide should be a purely personal matter; possible abuse of vulnerable persons; access by the poor; the effectiveness of safeguards; the limits of palliative care; and the relevance of God’s will and cultural beliefs in constitutional interpretation. But these matters are not settled by the ministers simply putting forward their personal preferences – or those of their departments, or the government – without due regard for, and recognition of, the centrality of the Constitution and constitutional interpretation. Rather than muddying the waters, they have a public responsibility to uplift the debate to the level set by our Constitution and to educate, rather than proselytise.
  5. Pretoria and Cape Town — 11 May 2015

Prince Buthelezi at Robin Stransham-Ford’s funeral:

“I developed a massive respect for him and Mario. It was their own personal struggle with cancer that challenged them to turn their attention to this disease,” said Buthelezi.
“I respect the courage they showed and Robin especially, who has brought about a debate that may be very controversial, but that needs to be engaged as an issue of human dignity. The Medical Innovation Bill may yet become his greatest legacy, but it won’t be his only legacy.”

Read original article:
Assisted suicide ‘warrior’ lauded: Cape Town – A true comrade and a warrior who was enigmatic, charismatic and charming. | IOL News


26 thoughts on “Media release on legalising assisted dying – DignitySA

  • 3 July 2015 at 06:28
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    Thank you so much!

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    • 13 July 2015 at 06:33
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      It’s an honour and a pleasure to be part of a team dedicated to providing choice for those suffering intractably. Thank you!

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  • 10 June 2015 at 08:50
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    Since I retired to the W.Cape about 20 yrs ago I have “lost” four close friends after assisted euthanasia. These happened with their full knowledge and after consultation with their families, doctor and pastors.
    I could cite the full particulars of each case but suffice it to say that in each case it ended a life of horrible pain and suffering. Assisted euthanasia is being practised in SA by responsible people out of sympathy for loved ones. It is not reported in the media as such but it does happen.

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    • 13 July 2015 at 06:51
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      Thanks for sharing, Elmer. It’s hard losing a loved one, but knowing that they chose to end their suffering and that they died on their terms, eases the grief somewhat. And yes, it does happen. Without a doubt.

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  • 8 June 2015 at 12:09
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    C Louis Leipoldt’s essay Ch XVI pages 270-281, in ‘Bushveld Doctor’ Jonathan Cape, London, 1937, entitled ‘The Right to Die’ addresses the issue, amazing to think it was published 78 years ago.

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    • 13 July 2015 at 07:03
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      Thank you for this fascinating comment, Dr Murray. I have tried to find excerpts online, without success. Are there perhaps any links you might have which you could share? According to Amazon the book is out of print.

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  • 3 June 2015 at 14:25
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    I feel strongly that people who are not living a quality life whether due to chronic pain, terminal illness or are in a vegetative state should have the ability to end their suffering in a dignified manner. My children are aware and are accepting of my wish to fulfill my request should I not be able to, should I find myself in such said circumstance.

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    • 3 June 2015 at 16:41
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      Agree! No-one has the right to tell us how much pain and/or indignity we should have to endure. Good on you for speaking to your children about your end-of-life wishes.

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  • 29 May 2015 at 15:34
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    I agree to your right to die with dignity and would like to join a class action suit.

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    • 3 June 2015 at 16:44
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      Our right to dignity is entrenched in our Constitution. In view of our recent success in court and the subsequent appeal being granted, it is unlikely that we will take the class action route, but please write to us (lee@dignitysa.org) in order that our attorneys can keep your information on record.

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    • 13 July 2015 at 07:09
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      Hi Sandra. Unfortunately, as we won our recent lawsuit, we are not going to be taking on any additional cases at this time. Judge Fabricius’ ruling has been appealed and should the Supreme Court of Appeal find differently to Judge Fabricius, we will appeal to the Constitutional Court. If we win, our opposition will, most likely, also appeal to the ConCourt – the road ahead is long.

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  • 25 May 2015 at 10:05
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    I strongly feel that terminally ill people should have legal rights and a say in their own lives as well as have the right to insist on their human dignity during the dying process. In cases where they cannot speak for themselves they urgently need some form of humanitarian and legal representation to apply for medical assistence in order to die peacefully and to prevent sometimes months and years of cruel and painfull suffering. This will help not only the dying but also their helpless relatives and loved ones whose own lives might be severely and negatively affected by having to witness the painfull and long drawn out process of dying.

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    • 3 June 2015 at 16:47
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      Thank you for contributing. The points you raise are valid. Not a day goes by without someone, somewhere, having to deal with these very issues.

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    • 13 July 2015 at 07:13
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      Well said, Esther. We agree!

      Reply
  • 23 May 2015 at 17:46
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    An interesting discussion is worth a comment. I do believe that you ought to publish more about this topic, it might not be a taboo matter but generally folks don’t discuss these subjects. To the next! All the best!!

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    • 3 June 2015 at 16:48
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      Thank you. We will indeed keep publishing and are planning to embark on a massive fundraising, awareness and educational campaign.

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    • 13 July 2015 at 07:14
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      Thank you for your comment, Randal. Noted and appreciated.

      Reply
  • 22 May 2015 at 14:38
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    I am in favour of legalised assisted dying in order to prevent any further pain or indignities suffered by loved ones through a drawn out process of dying.

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    • 4 June 2015 at 07:27
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      Your comment is appreciated. Thank you.

      Reply
  • 17 May 2015 at 19:17
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    Referring to ‘Message of Condolence’ by Prince Buthelezi:
    “Advocate Stransham-Ford and Dr Oriani-Ambrosini were brothers-in-arms, and had engaged a shared battle.”
    Spot-on! Warriors for humanity indeed.

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    • 17 May 2015 at 19:29
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      Agree wholeheartedly. And what a beautiful message it was. Without doubt, Robin’s children will treasure it always. As will I.

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      • 17 May 2015 at 20:10
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        Not to forget DignitySA’s Media release on legalising assisted dying!
        I take my hat off to your organisation’s record of achievements so far, please, do keep it up – and thank you so much.

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        • 17 May 2015 at 20:19
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          Thank you. Your kind words are appreciated. We are fortunate to have very able and willing board members, a brilliant legal team and amazing supporters and volunteers, not least of whom is our Webmaster Bernhard who, despite enormous physical challenges, works tirelessly to keep our website up to date and looking fabulous. #SoVeryGrateful

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          • 17 May 2015 at 20:55
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            Thanks once again!
            Keith

  • 15 May 2015 at 15:45
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    Very interested. How do I get a form to complete for my wishes to be carried out.

    Reply

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