A new case to try legalise euthanasia has just been launched in the South Gauteng High Court. A doctor and her patient are jointly applying for euthanasia. The doctor herself has a form of blood cancer (multiple myeloma), while the patient has degeneration of the nerves (motor neuron disease). They seek to have physician assisted suicide and euthanasia declared legal by a court declaration that the common law prohibiting this is unconstitutional. Unlike the previous Stransham-Ford euthanasia case, this is not being motivated by the claim that they have a short time to live. It is thus not an urgent application and will be handled as a trial action, which may take some time to be heard. The doctor & patient apparently both wish to commit suicide. Since the doctor could easily access such medication, there is not much the law could do to stop the two of them having a suicide pact, but it seems they want to use their case to change the law.
Court papers describe their disease symptoms as ‘torturing symptoms’. This would indicate they possibly intend to argue on the basis of the Bill of Rights 12 1(d), which prohibits torture. This argument was already tried and not accepted by the Supreme Court of Appeal in December 2016. The Oxford Dictionary defines torture as “The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or in order to force them to do or say something.” https://goo.gl/pNz1Xp. Disease pain is not being inflicted by any person. It is not as a punishment or to force anyone to do anything. These disease symptoms, while unpleasant can be mitigated by palliative care and there are many other diseases with worse symptoms.
This is a much less extreme case than that of Stransham-Ford, and if accepted, would leave a door open for assisted suicide and euthanasia for a very wide range of medical conditions. The process of dying almost always involves some pain and discomfort. It would likely lead either immediately or incrementally to euthanasia and assisted suicide effectively ‘on demand’ as in Belgium. It would also leave multiple other people with terminally ill, disabled and elderly people open to pressure to commit suicide or it being done without their consent, as is already being experienced in places where euthanasia and/or assisted suicide have been legalised. Bringing this case is an attempt to abuse the court. As the Minister of Health has stated, the constitution has no right to die, and if that was in any doubt that was confirmed by the court last year, which confirmed any proposals to change the law should be dealt with by parliament. This case should be dismissed. The applicants are apparently hoping to find another activist judge who will abuse his powers like the previous lower court judge Fabricius (see why the judge was wrong at https://goo.gl/gBcK9T).
[This is breaking news – not yet been reported anywhere else in the news media.]
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PUBLIC MEETINGS (HOSTED BY STUDENTS FOR LIFE, UCT www.studentsforlife.co.za)
Euthanasia: How would you be affected?
Mon 18th Sept Dumo Baqwa 13:00, UCT Medical Campus .
‘Healthworkers perspective’- Dr Allan Donkin (GP) or watch talk on Youtube: https://goo.gl/f1iNwA
‘Political, legal & Bible arguments’ – Philip Rosenthal (ChristianView Network) (The venue is just inside the main entrance).
Tue 19th Sept 1pm Leslie Social Sciences Building 1B, UCT Upper Campus .
‘Answering philosophical arguments’ – Tom Angier PhD: Lecturer, UCT Dept Philosophy .
‘Political, legal, & Bible arguments’ – Philip Rosenthal (ChristianView