Euthanasia misinformation puts vulnerable people at risk


Lies repeated daily in court and in the media are being accepted as truth and put millions of weak and vulnerable South Africans, including the elderly, disabled and those with HIV at risk of abuse and being pressured to commit suicide to reduce health care burden and receive inheritance.

The false history from Dignity SA reported in court and the media: Example: “in 1998, then president Nelson Mandela asked the Law Reform Commission to research “assisted suicide and the artificial preservation of life”. We are told that the commission favoured assisted suicide and wrote a draft bill. The bill, which was to have been debated in parliament, was given to then health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang in 1999 — and nothing further was heard of it. The government must allow South Africans to have their say. Debate will help us to arrive at a better decision.”

Lies repeated often enough become believed as the truth. Such information, was recklessly assumed true by Judge Fabricius in his judgement, and repeated without reasonable time to weigh or investigate the facts in a trial in which the opposition were deliberately given only 3 working days to prepare a defence and the trial was over in one day. This on a matter of international importance, overturning 1500 years of legal precedent (from codified Roman law), 2400 years of medical oath ethical precedent (the Hippocratic Oath), the united view of international Medical ethical bodies and the will of our Constitutional Assembly and a second consideration by Parliament – to allow active euthanasia allowed by only the three tiny Benelux countries out of 196 countries in the world – making up together less than half a percent of the world population.

What should have required a 75% majority to amend an entrenched clause in the Bill of rights, he now attempts to summarily overturn in a judicial fiat in one day based on twisted, subjective reinterpretation of the meaning of ‘dignity’ never intended by our Constitutional Assembly. Contrast this with the lengthly cautious celebrity trials of trivial legal significance. The appeal will give opportunity for such claims to be subject to proper scrutiny, but the misleading advocacy media reporting is lending credibility to a scandalous abuse of judicial process.

The concern here is this repeated publishing of false information and giving the bulk of the reporting space to a small but determined minority pressure group, various media outlets are misleading the public. This has the effect of putting weak and vulnerable people such as the elderly and disabled under pressure to commit suicide or be euthanased without consent (as is already happening in the low countries). Far from promoting dignity, it is undermining the dignity of these people and making them disposable and less valued by society. It opens them up to economic pressure to die to reduce the care burden.

Factual inaccuracies:

1. Mandela did not request the SALRC Commission to make such investigation. The request came directly from the Euthanasia lobby, which at the time was called SAVES (South African Voluntary Euthanasia Society). This is an attempt to try to falsely borrow Mandela’s name to lend credibility to their cause.
2. The request was not in 1998. It was in 1991. Further, the SALRC began researching and publishing on the matter before 1998.
3. The SALRC did not recommend the legalisation of euthanasia. Both their report and their media statement very clearly said they did not make such a recommendation. They put forward three alternatives regarding euthanasia: The first to keep the status quo. The second, assisted suicide decided by doctor. The third, assisted suicide decided by panel. Most of the public responses, medical associations, the state and parliament favoured the first response. i.e. keep the law as is. The other two alternatives were repeatedly compared to the Nazi T4 programme legalisation of euthanasia.
4. The story above regards the state and parliament consideration of the proposals not correct. The SALRC proposals went to parliament. First to the Justice Committee. Then to the Health Committee. The report and its recommendations were discussed in ad-hoc motions in the National Council of Provinces and the National Assembly. Nevertheless, as with many other proposals from the SALRC, it did not find sufficient support in the Ministries of Justice or Health or Parliament to be tabled as a formal bill. A member of the Parliamentary Health Committee reported it abandoned on 3 August 2004.
5. Statistical evidence available suggests South African public overwhelmingly supports Pro-life and biblical Christian view of the Sanctity of Life, and opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide across the political spectrum. We have already debated this matter at length in the media on numerous occasions, particularly at the time of the SALRC study and consultation. We do not need another debate or consultation on the matter. The solicited ‘phone in’ type polls undertaken by certain media outlets are statistically unsound and easily manipulated by lobby groups and the media outlets themselves. No statistically sound poll has ever shown support for legal euthanasia in South Africa.

[Evidence for all of the above is publicly available on the internet, and will hopefully be presented at the appeal and is available on request].

The current repeated publication of false information by lobby groups on euthanasia is similar to that which occurred to motivate the legalisation of abortion in 1997. Over one million babies have died as a consequence of this. False reporting has consequences. Such false reporting is not just academic. It may if accepted, lead to blood guilt of the killing of the unwanted innocent elderly and disabled, possibly later spreading to other vulnerable groups, and I argue is a form of advocacy towards violence and hate speech. South Africa is also in a different situation to the low countries in being socially and politically unstable with an already over-stretched law enforcement and have a millions of people with HIV and thus potentially qualifying for such euthanasia.

There are so many inaccuracies in these court documents and being published in the media on this issue, they cannot all be dealt with in one article. More exposure will follow.
Thus far 7485 have signed the petition to support the National Prosecuting Authority appeal on this judgment.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Rosenthal