Supreme Court of Appeals overturns ruling allowing “assisted dying”

The Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) on Tuesday overturned a ruling by a lower court granting a terminally ill patient the right to die, the Justice Ministry said, thereby upholding South Africa’s laws forbidding assisted suicide.

In a groundbreaking ruling in 2015, South Africa’s High Court had granted a terminally ill man, Robin Stransham-Ford, the right to die with dignity by way of euthanasia.

Stransham-Ford, who was suffering from cancer, died just hours before the High Court ruling was delivered.

“The SCA held that the claim ceased to exist once the applicant died before the order could be granted,” the ministry said in a statement.

“SCA further held that this was an inappropriate case in which to develop the common law of murder and culpable homicide,” the ministry said, adding the outcome meant assisted suicide remained “illegal and prosecutable”.

The government appealed against the ruling, saying it had far-reaching implications on its interpretation and possible abuse by others in the absence of a legislative framework that regulates assisted suicide.

READ MORE: It’s time to revisit the right to assisted suicide and euthanasia

Euthanasia laws vary by country. Laws in Belgium, the Netherlands, Colombia and Luxemburg allow mercy deaths for adults, which usually means a doctor administering lethal doses of barbiturates.

In Switzerland, Germany, Japan and Canada, doctor-assisted suicide, where people take the final action themselves, is legal.

Retired South African cleric and anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a commentary published in October that, when his time came, he would “want the option of an assisted death“.

Tutu, who has been living with prostate cancer for nearly 20 years, came out in support of assisted dying in 2014 but was more ambiguous about whether he personally wanted that option.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

I still reap the rewards of my mother’s prayers

So many strong black women are marginalised and forgotten — and their roles seen as expected and natural

The new Range Rover nears absolute perfection

Comfort, speed and luxury all make the newest edition of the Range Rover worth all the fuss

Tutu Puoane back on the South African stage after two...

She may have left South Africa more than 20 years ago, but this jazz singer is still firmly rooted in her heritage

Pandor: Blinken did not come to tell SA to choose...

The US secretary of state said that when one country invades another country, sovereignty and independence mattered
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×