South Africa’s laws currently prohibit assisted dying. It is DignitySA’s belief that it is a ‘Basic Human Right to Die with Dignity’, and that those afflicted with a terminal illness should be allowed the option to end his or her life with assistance in order to preserve personal privacy and dignity as well as alleviate suffering. DignitySA believes that assisted dying should be legalised.
We share with all forms of life the certainty of death – time spares no one!
It is natural for us to hope that it will come to us peacefully and without prolonged suffering or distress. This hope however is not always fully realised and under our current legislation, people who seek a medically assisted or induced death are unable to attain it. They have to endure circumstances that they feel are intolerable. Many would be relieved of that anxiety surrounding their final days if they knew that a painless and peaceful assisted death could be an option.
Progress in medical science over the last few decades has led to a marked increase in the number of people who live to advanced years. We are indeed grateful for these advances, but there has also been a corresponding increase in the number of those who are faced with an often prolonged illness, the prospect of decline into complete dependence or an accumulation of conditions such that they feel overburdened by health issues.
Suicide rates within our elderly population cause extreme distress to families as people take matters into their own hands. Similarly, the numbers of failed suicide attempts have profound consequences. DignitySA proposes a solution to these sad situations: the establishment of end-of-life care that offers both palliative care plus an option of legalized assisted dying that would largely address the suicide rate in the elderly and terminally ill.
Associated with these suicide rates are the incidences of family members assisting in the death of a loved one and the possibility of facing legal consequences. Lack of assisted dying legislation makes criminals of non-criminals.
Freedom of choice is the hallmark of human identity. DignitySA supports the right of the individual to self-autonomy in end-of-life decisions but recognizes that we must do so within the wider structures of family and society. DignitySA seeks solutions to issues surrounding end-of-life care, solutions that will offer South Africans clear and real choices in an environment that ensures social responsibility and accountability.