Tutu favours assisted suicide

South Africa’s Anglican archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu on Sunday said he supported assisted dying for the terminally ill, the day after the Church’s former leader backed a bill to legalise it in Britain.

But the Church remains officially opposed to the legislation and has called for a public inquiry into the issue.

Writing in Britain’s Observer newspaper, Tutu explained that he had been convinced by the case of Craig Schonegevel, a 28-year-old South African who suffered from neurofibromatosis and ended up killing himself because doctors were unable to end his life.

“Some people opine that with good palliative care there is no need for assisted dying, no need for people to request to be legally given a lethal dose of medication,” said the Nobel Peace laureate.

“That was not the case for Craig Schonegevel. Others assert their right to autonomy and consciousness – why exit in the fog of sedation when there’s the alternative of being alert and truly present with loved ones?” He revealed that he had asked his family not to prolong his life artificially, and slammed the treatment of former president Nelson Mandela during his final days.

“What was done to Madiba was disgraceful,” he wrote.

“You could see that Madiba was not fully there. My friend was no longer himself. It was an affront to Madiba’s dignity.”

Former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey on Saturday said he had changed his mind and would support a British bill to allow assisted suicide in certain cases.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has called the bill “mistaken and dangerous”.

But Carey, who now sits in the House of Lords – parliament’s upper chamber – after leaving office as the spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans in 2002, told the Daily Mail that he had dropped his long-standing opposition.


“The fact is I’ve changed my mind,” he wrote in a piece for the British newspaper. “The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering,” he explained.

The former cleric, 78, said he would support the bill, brought by Lord Charles Falconer, which would allow mentally-capable adults to request help to die if they were suffering from a terminal illness and had less than six months to live.

It is due to be debated in the House of Lords next week.

On Tutu’s comments, Falconer told the Observer he was “really glad that someone of his stature is taking part in this important debate.” “I very much hope that it will indicate that religion is not a bar to supporting this bill,” he added.

The Church of England on Sunday called for an Royal Commission – a major public inquiry – to be held on the issue. –Sapa-AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sapa Afp
Guest Author
Advertising

The recovered remain cautious

People who have survived Covid-19 are not going through life carefree. They are still taking all the preventative measures

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations

Senwes launches Agri Value Chain Food Umbrella

South African farmers can now help to feed the needy by donating part of their bumper maize crop to delivery number 418668

Ethics and internal financial controls add value to the public sector

National treasury is rolling out accounting technician training programmes to upskill those who work in its finance units in public sector accounting principles

Lessons from South Korea for Africa’s development

'Leaders can push people through, through their vision and inspiration, based on their exemplary actions'

Old Mutual announces digital AGM

An ambitious plan to create Africa’s biggest digital classroom is intended to address one of the continent’s biggest challenges — access to education

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday