Campaign to legalise Assisted Suicide

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Faerie (May 21, 2012, 08:59:11 AM):
I'm all for this, I've seen too many friends/family die in utter agony with cancer and HIV related diseases.

A controversial campaign to legalise doctor-assisted suicide and active euthanasia was launched in Cape Town on Thursday, spearheaded by the Ethics Institute of South Africa (EthicsSA) and Dignity SA.

The launch comes two weeks after the much-publicised return to South Africa of Dignity SA founder Sean Davison, following his five-month house arrest in New Zealand for assisting his aged mother to die.

Davison, professor of forensics at the University of the Western Cape, was initially charged with attempted murder, but this was reduced to “counselling and procuring attempted suicide”.

Dignity SA is now running an online petition to garner support for the legalisation of assisted dying.

“This is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity,” Davison told the Mail & Guardian. “It takes brave thinking and brave decisions”.

Davison added that he had received “overwhelming support” in both New Zealand and South Africa.

In a position paper released on Thursday, titled End of life decisions, ethics and the law, Professor Willem Landman, executive director of EthicsSA, calls for “statutory legal clarity and reform” in the areas of terminal pain management, life-sustaining treatment and assisted dying.

“Competent persons have a moral right to make their own choices, including choices about their own continued life in clearly defined conditions, and to act upon these choices.
Brian (May 21, 2012, 09:31:33 AM):
As a cancer 'survivor' I fully agree.
The Vulcan (May 21, 2012, 09:43:29 AM):
Wow this is awesome news! One of the many things that's somehow missunderstood and that's you should have control over your own life and death - it's crazy what hospitals charge you and force you to live in suffering and try and stop you from dying in peace. This is extenuated by almost every religion that sees it as a sure ticket to their brand of hell, this really is a huge moral issue and sadly one that won't be won anytime soon, but maybe even if all this petition does is create awareness that could maybe throw a few drops in the bucket into changing people's perceptions.
st0nes (May 21, 2012, 09:46:16 AM):
If the right to life is enshrined in the constitution, then so is the right to die with dignity--it's the flip side of the same coin. A person's life is owned by that person and no one else, especially not the state, and it is his to do with what he will, including ending it if it becomes burdensome to him.
Zulumoose (May 22, 2012, 09:17:04 AM):
I agree that it should be allowed under the right conditions, but also there is a great deal of legal and moral grey area to be navigated. It could easily get bogged down in protracted and expensive court action.

It will be very hard to establish and get general agreement on what constitutes acceptable circumstances. The will to live can be lost and then regained multiple times, so making it a short and easy process would be a very bad idea. The desire to die can be normal in the face of continual suffering, but who except the individual can quantify the 'right' amount or period of suffering that can be accepted as a baseline for approval?

I am of the opinion that suicide should be permitted and attainable by any adult of sound mind who, if not in a position to achieve this by themselves, has at least been counselled by someone who is familiar with their background and competent to assess their mental state.

Once it is approved as an option, assistance as to method must be done very carefully, there must be no pressure on the patient to comply, and ideally there should be multiple goalposts at which the patient must confirm their desire to continue, without prompting. I think it should be set up in such a way that the patient is as free to continue or opt out as they would be at home, with nobody monitoring them. The discovery of their death should be as for any other patient who dies in their sleep, without a timetable.


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