Africa's appeals court overturns ruling allowing 'assisted dying'
Send a link to a friend
[December 06, 2016]
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South
Africa's 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
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
"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
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.
[to top of second column]
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
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.
(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by James Macharia and
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.