Campaign to legalise Assisted Suicide

I’m all for this, I’ve seen too many friends/family die in utter agony with cancer and HIV related diseases.

A controversial campaign to legalise doctor-assisted suicide and active euthanasia was launched in Cape Town on Thursday, spearheaded by the Ethics Institute of South Africa (EthicsSA) and Dignity SA.

The launch comes two weeks after the much-publicised return to South Africa of Dignity SA founder Sean Davison, following his five-month house arrest in New Zealand for assisting his aged mother to die.

Davison, professor of forensics at the University of the Western Cape, was initially charged with attempted murder, but this was reduced to “counselling and procuring attempted suicide”.

Dignity SA is now running an online petition to garner support for the legalisation of assisted dying.

“This is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity,” Davison told the Mail & Guardian. “It takes brave thinking and brave decisions”.

Davison added that he had received “overwhelming support” in both New Zealand and South Africa.

In a position paper released on Thursday, titled End of life decisions, ethics and the law, Professor Willem Landman, executive director of EthicsSA, calls for “statutory legal clarity and reform” in the areas of terminal pain management, life-sustaining treatment and assisted dying.

“Competent persons have a moral right to make their own choices, including choices about their own continued life in clearly defined conditions, and to act upon these choices.

As a cancer ‘survivor’ I fully agree.

Wow this is awesome news! One of the many things that’s somehow missunderstood and that’s you should have control over your own life and death - it’s crazy what hospitals charge you and force you to live in suffering and try and stop you from dying in peace. This is extenuated by almost every religion that sees it as a sure ticket to their brand of hell, this really is a huge moral issue and sadly one that won’t be won anytime soon, but maybe even if all this petition does is create awareness that could maybe throw a few drops in the bucket into changing people’s perceptions.

If the right to life is enshrined in the constitution, then so is the right to die with dignity–it’s the flip side of the same coin. A person’s life is owned by that person and no one else, especially not the state, and it is his to do with what he will, including ending it if it becomes burdensome to him.

I agree that it should be allowed under the right conditions, but also there is a great deal of legal and moral grey area to be navigated. It could easily get bogged down in protracted and expensive court action.

It will be very hard to establish and get general agreement on what constitutes acceptable circumstances. The will to live can be lost and then regained multiple times, so making it a short and easy process would be a very bad idea. The desire to die can be normal in the face of continual suffering, but who except the individual can quantify the ‘right’ amount or period of suffering that can be accepted as a baseline for approval?

I am of the opinion that suicide should be permitted and attainable by any adult of sound mind who, if not in a position to achieve this by themselves, has at least been counselled by someone who is familiar with their background and competent to assess their mental state.

Once it is approved as an option, assistance as to method must be done very carefully, there must be no pressure on the patient to comply, and ideally there should be multiple goalposts at which the patient must confirm their desire to continue, without prompting. I think it should be set up in such a way that the patient is as free to continue or opt out as they would be at home, with nobody monitoring them. The discovery of their death should be as for any other patient who dies in their sleep, without a timetable.

There is a distinct difference between a healthy individual that wishes to commit suicide and someone suffering from an incurable and painful disease wishing to end his life. To spend anything up to a year or more in agony waiting for your body to eventually give out is no way to live, and this is what is being advocated with the term “assisted suicide”.

It is a moral and ethical mudpool when it comes to mentally retarded children/individuals who simply dont have quality of life nor any prospect thereof, but I’m very clear on having the right to die when you are of sound mind and medical science cannot prevent your inevitable and possibly excruciating death. We do it for our pets after all, why not for our loved ones?

We are hardly an endangered species. Suicide should not only be legalized, but also, like the use of condoms, actively encouraged. A facility providing a painless and clinical termination of life should go a long way in reducing the trauma associated with the typical, messy, gosh-who-would’ve-thought suicide. Just before the transaction takes place, it would be possible to attend your own “living funeral” or a “going away party”, whichever tickles your final fancy.

I, too, am all for it.


I don’t see why a sound mind should be a requirement for the luxury of being allowed to off yourself when you so wish.

Everyone knows if they want to live or die. It makes no difference how you’ve arrived at this decision, either through rational contemplation or by a method that is totally cuckoo.


It makes sense in a weird way, although my first reaction was “NO WAY”, most suicides I suspect could be prevented by proper counselling and practical assistance (and I’m talking teenage and “no reason” suicides here). By making it legal though, one could get to these people and possibly sort their issues out in a process running up to the actual act.

With suicide I’m always reminded of one of my son’s friend’s father who hung himself and the boy found him, it had such traumatic results for the lad in the end, and it was such a heartbreaking time for all of them, what a waste.

Quite. Legalisation, and specifically proceduralisation, will appeal to both parties: those interested in suicide prevention through mandatory councilling (and I can just imagine the enthusiasm of that civil servant), and guys like myself who somewhat misanthropically embrace any (well, almost any) means of population control.

Another thing: the vast amount of harvest-able organs that will no doubt become available as an useful sideline to the suicide-on-demand business will at least be one nail in the coffin of the currently popular idea that suicide is necessarily a selfish act.


Hmmm, brilliant idea, make it mandatory - Suicide = organ donor.

Belgium’s parliament votes through child euthanasia

Parliament in Belgium has passed a bill allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit, by 86 votes to 44, with 12 abstentions.

When, as expected, the bill is signed by the king, Belgium will become the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.

It may be requested by terminally ill children who are in great pain and also have parental consent.

Read more from

I do not think that I will be a brave enough parent to do this. Myself or my wife, no problem but a small child?

This is a real sticky and complicated moral issue and I don’t ever wish to be in that position, but if I go from the general position than life is preferable to death, pain preferable to suffering, it does give reason to consider if such action is morally and humanly justifiable.

This is something I just cannot understand from the religious standpoint where they take a absolute black/white position on the question, and this goes on for abortion issues as well, that even if the woman is raped or even if someone screams in agony to their death, that the woman has no right to her own body; and helping such a person to find rest from a life they certainly wouldn’t want - is a sin.

I agree, it’s not a decision any parent would ever want to make, but in some circumstances, wouldn’t that be the only act of love you can take?

Here’s a good response from a Belgian mother who campaigned for this legislation: CNN (Youtube) explaining the context in which I do agree and think it’s the right position to have.

In this video they show that doctors withhold food and water from the baby to encourage that final slumber, but isn’t this just causing more pain? Why let some starve, thirst and suffer horrible agony if there’s a more humane way?

This is also the problem I have with keeping someone artificially alive on machines just because family cannot say good-bye, this practice isn’t about the suffering of the patient, but for the emotional suffering of the ones that get left behind.

I know there’s like some Buddhist death ritual I saw on NatGeo once where the person basically starves himself to death at an old age where he wishes to complete his final part of the journey to enlightenment or some such, and this is something to be admired, but when it comes to help someone end pain, that get frowned upon?

As I said, really sticky and complicated, I don’t much like the bit that she wants to choose on her baby’s behalf, when I try to think of this, I think of a child that is old enough to voice his/her own wishes, but since the baby cannot express itself yet, I don’t think the mother is wishing for that for her own selfish needs, I think a person is incredibly brave and has a huge heart to put her baby’s needs above her own.

If this is allowed for adults, I see no reason it shouldn’t be for children.

Let the adults opt out of pain but let children suffer?

Sometimes I find it weird that some questions are even questions.

I agree with you all the way but like I said, to make that decision as a parent? Most parent will opt out and hope and pray for a miracle but at some point I suppose you will want to do it. Just don’t know how you are going to live with yourself afterwards. At least my kids are grown up now.

Its a strange area for kids, I can understand that Adults could make the choice.
But on the other hand can a child make that sort of informed choice?
And clearly a adult can’t make that choice for them, because then it would be murder.

I’m operating on the assumption that the kid in question is definitely terminal, and is suffering severely.

From that standpoint, I can totally see the rationale.

But then, I’m not a parent. You don’t need to tell me that prob. makes all the difference.

Although I’m not a parent either, I assume that if a parent reaches such a decision they will have to live with the same kind of pain as anyone else would if they were asked to e.g. turn off life support, whether it’s for your child or spouse or parent - it’s probably the hardest thing you can ask anyone to do, I just don’t see any reason why it should make you feel guilt and haunt you, as you did what was in the best interest of your child, maybe I need to be a parent to grasp what you’re getting at, but as far as having the choice to do something like this is way better than just starving the person to death or continuously keeping him/her sedated for prolonged periods if you know (s)he is going to die in any event.

We are indeed talking about a terminal and painful situation here, as is the case with all assisted suicide cases and just because a kid isn’t fully developed and not a major yet with full capacity to act doesn’t mean that minor person is incapable of understanding pain an the need to end it, I often fight with people on this notion that kids have no brains, they may not always be able to distinguish between reality and fiction, but then neither is say people who believe in talking snakes and flying horses… Point is they are still capable of thinking and expressing what they like and don’t like, in this there’s not much difference between a child’s decision to end pain and an adult’s decision to end pain and to grasp the full weight of such a decision.

We’ve had a child in our family dying of a terminal illness.
And in now way where they even able to understand what was happening
nor could they express such a desire.

If you do not express before hand anything happens that you do not wish for life support to continue,
no body can turn off the life support because it becomes murder. Barring maybe an older teenager I don’t
think a child can make such a choice reasonable, so I fail to see how anybody could make it for them, even a parent
because it would still end up a murder. It sucks but that is the way it is.