Robin Stransham-Ford (65), who is suffering with prostate cancer, had asked the court to grant him an order that would allow him to ask his doctor to give him drugs to end his life. If he failed to do it he wanted his doctor to be given the authority to do it for him, eNCA reports. Yesterday Stransham-Ford’s attorney pleaded with the North Gauteng High Court to allow the former advocate to kill himself.
“What must he do, get on top of a building and jump down into the street, [or] splatter his brains against a wall?” his lawyer HB Marais, apparently frustrated, argued towards the end of proceedings on Wednesday.
Part of Marais’ argument was that denying Stransham-Ford the right to end his life was an infringement on his constitutional right to dignity, as not being allowed access to an assisted suicide meant that he would have to spend his last days in pain.
The debate over assisted suicide has been ongoing in South Africa for some time, with people such as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu arguing for it.
Speaking to a British newspaper last year, Tutu said people should be given the right to end their life if they are suffering and that South Africa needs to revisit its laws on assisted suicide.
“On our own soil Craig Schonegevel, after 28 years of struggling with neurofibromatosis, decided his quality of life was too poor. He’d had so many surgical procedures [that] the thought of enduring more was unbearable. He could find no legal assistance to help him die.
“On the night of 1 September 2009, he swallowed 12 sleeping pills, put two plastic bags over his head tied with elastic bands and was found dead by his parents the next morning,” Tutu was quoted by the Guardian.
Tutu added that Schonegevel wanted to end his life in an assisted suicide, but the legal system had denied him that right.
Sources: News24Wire, eNCA