Monday, 22 July, 2024
HomeEthicsEuthanasia activist says SA doctors support legalising assisted dying

Euthanasia activist says SA doctors support legalising assisted dying

The former New Zealand professor and South African-born right-to-die activist Sean Davison said 10 doctors from this country had emailed him while he was under house arrest, saying they had helped people to die.

“They did it out of compassion,” he said, adding that he and his organisation, Dignity SA, intend making an application to the Western Cape High Court this year to have assisted dying legalised.

Davison said a number of doctors were fighting for legal euthanasia as they stared death in the face daily with critically-ill patients.

The author of The Price of Mercy completed his house arrest three weeks ago after being sentenced in 2019, reports the Cape Argus.

Judge John Hlophe accepted a plea bargain from Davison who was sentenced to house arrest in New Zealand for the attempted murder of his mother, Dr Patricia Ferguson, who was terminally ill.

Davidson said that since his arrest, 10 doctors told him they had assisted people to die, and that dozens more are in favour of euthanasia.

He added that he delivered a series of four talks to groups of doctors around the country six years ago. About 100 doctors attended each talk.

“After the talk I took a poll, assuring them it was a secret vote: 98 supported a law change on assisted dying.”

Support is growing for Davison, who said soon assisted dying could be done without the assistance of a doctor.

Davison was charged with the murder of Dr Anrich Burger, who became a quadriplegic after a car accident in 2005. He was also found guilty of assisting in the death of Justin Varain, who had motor neuron disease. He ended Varian’s life using helium deoxygenation or asphyxiation.

Another he assisted in dying was Richard Holland who sustained brain damage during a cycling accident. Davison gave him a lethal dose of phenobarbital in November 2015.

“Let’s be absolutely clear that the crime I committed in helping Varian to die was not murder, but an act of compassion. I think anyone who can relate to the life that Varian was experiencing can understand that.”

He said he was contacted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu via email at the time, who was aware of his intentions to help Varian to die and offered to visit him.

Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation CEO Janet Jobson said: “In his latter years, Tutu became an outspoken supporter of campaigns to legalise assisted dying in South Africa and around the world. His support was rooted in his life-long commitment to compassion, human dignity, and enhancing the quality of all human beings’ lives.”

Davison introduced the concept of using a device to die called Sarco, known as a euthanasia capsule, which will be used for the first time in Switzerland this year.

“If doctors were to speak up with one voice, I believe this would quickly lead to a change in the law in our country,” he said.

Davison said Dignity SA would, if necessary, approach the Constitutional Court to have assisted dying legalised, and were confident they could win.


Cape Argus PressReader article – Doctors back right to die (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Euthanasia activist Sean Davison calls for law change after house arrest ends


Assisted death must be decriminalised – SA mental health practitioners


Euthanasia advocate gets 8-years house arrest for 3 murders


Switzerland gives legal approval to suicide pod




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