Assisted Suicide is not a private matter

This article was published on the HOPE Australia website on July 16.

By Paul Russell, the founder and director of HOPE Australia.

New Zealand born South African based euthanasia advocate Sean Davison is in the press again, once more seemingly stepping across the line into assisting in suicide.

In 2011, Davison was convicted in a New Zealand Court of assisting the suicide of his own mother in 2006, a matter that came to light in the review of a draft of Davison’s book, Before we say goodbye. Davison admitted in 2010 to crushing 18 morphine tablets and mixing it into a glass of water before handing it to his mother, who had cancer. He was committed to home detention for five months before returning to South Africa and founding a ‘right-to-die’ movement.

In September 2014, Davison admitted at the world ‘right-to-die’ conference in Chicago that he had assisted in the suicide death of a quadriplegic medical doctor in 2013.

Australia’s other ‘Dr Death,’ Rodney Syme, gave a talk at that event entitled: Challenging the Legal System – and getting away with it. Perhaps, Davison heeded Syme’s advice as, on that occasion, no charges were ever brought against him.

Only a few days before Davison made this revelation to his international cohort, on his Dignity SA [Dignity South Africa] twitter feed, Davison tweeted: 

“Dignity SA is committed to good palliative care. Assisted Dying (sic) is a last resort for a small % for whom palliative care is not enough.”

The doctor in question [Dr. Anrich Burge] was not terminally ill. So much for standards.

This week, according to South Africa’s IOL news online, an anonymous caller tipped off the Cape Times that Davison was about to assist in another suicide, this time of a person in hospice care, apparently in his own home.

Link to the full article

New Zealand the assisted suicide debate changes venues.

This article was published on June 12 by Mercatornet.

By Paul Russell - Director of Hope Australia.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

On June 6 Justice Collins handed down his judgement in the High Court of New Zealand in a case brought by Lecretia Seales. Ms Seales had asked the court whether it would be an offence under the Crimes Act for her doctor to be able to help her die and whether a ban on assisted dying contravened the New Zealand Bill of Rights. In rejecting her application Justice Collins observed that:

"Ms Seales’ doctor would have been at risk of being prosecuted for either murder or manslaughter if she administered a fatal drug to Ms Seales intending to kill her. She would have been at risk of being charged with assisting suicide if she provided Ms Seales with a fatal drug, intending for Ms Seales take that drug and if Ms Seales died as a consequence."

This decision has significant implications in the wake of the Robin Stransham-Ford case in South Africa, where Judge Fabricius approved euthanasia or assisted suicide for the appellant, and the Canadian decision in the Carter case that declared effectively that the prohibition on assisted suicide and euthanasia were contrary to provisions in the Canadian Bill of Rights.

In all three cases the appeals have been based on a false premise that the disabilities of advancing illness would render people unable to commit suicide at a time of their choosing and that their rights were being denied on an equal basis with other citizens. This is emotional blackmail. As a colleague of mine expressed it recently: 

"If you won't promise to kill me later when I ask you to then I will kill myself sooner ... and you will have killed me!"

This is all predicated on the false assumption that, because suicide has been decriminalized that it is legal; if it is legal, then it is a right; if it is a right then it should be accessible to all, including people with a disability.

Let's be clear: suicide was decriminalized because it is not in the best interests of a suicide survivor. Suicide is not legal. There is no right to suicide.

I use the word 'disability' deliberately in the context of all three appellants because this is precisely the basis upon which their claims were made. In fact, the Canadian Supreme Court directly identified disability as one of the reasons why someone might ask for euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Link to the full article

South African Health Minister determined to stop assisted suicide

This article was published on the HOPE Australia website on May 4, 2015.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

By Paul Russell - Director of Hope Australia

In welcome news today from South Africa's News 24, the Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, signalled an appeal to a recent court ruling that allowed for Assisted Suicide in the African nation.

The recent court ruling on an appeal by Pretorian Lawyer, Robin Stransham-Ford, that he be allowed to die by assisted suicide or euthanasia effectively struck a broad blow to the protection of human persons in South Africa because, contrary to the assertions of the judge, his decision was not limited to the person in question. Effectively, Judge Fabricius legislated from the bench.

In the article, Motsoaledi presented a cogent defence of the opposition to both assisted suicide and euthanasia:

“This judgment has the potential to give rise to fraud and unethical behaviour among doctors,” Motsoaledi said. 
“Very soon we will start hearing stories of families colluding with doctors to end the life of their loved ones because they wanted to cash in on insurance policies. Some people may even start planning their deaths because they know that their policies are maturing. 
“We can’t have that situation in South Africa because it would be difficult to police and deal with. To prevent it, we must stop it before it goes any further,” he said.

The article said that, 'So determined is the health minister to stop the decriminalisation of assisted suicide that he is prepared to go to the Constitutional Court to fight the ruling passed in favour of Advocate Robin Stransham-Ford, who wanted to be helped to die.'

It went on: 

'Stransham-Ford (65), who had end-stage prostate cancer, approached the North Gauteng High Court seeking permission for doctors to assist him to die without them facing legal or professional consequences. 
'Assisted suicide or euthanasia is illegal in South Africa, and doctors who help patients to die face jail time of up to 14 years. 
'The health department will now join hands with the department of justice and constitutional development to appeal the judgment. 
'Motsoaledi said they were appealing because death was a natural process, and “no person should be allowed to assist somebody to die without facing the law”. 
“It doesn’t matter that science tells you that you have two weeks to live. Doctors should not participate in that dying process. Theirs is to help with palliative care so that a patient dies with dignity,” Motsoaledi said.'

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South African court decision approves death by lethal injection

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Justice Hans Fabricius of the South Africa High Court signed a court order approving the euthanasia death of Robin Stransham-Ford who was living with Prostate Cancer.

Eyewitness News in South Africa reported that Robin Stransham-Ford died from his medical condition this morning. It is interesting that the timing of the court order was the same day as his death.

Justice Fabricius legislated from the bench by withdrawing protections in law from euthanasia and assisted suicide. Even though Fabricius claimed that this decision was exclusive to this situation, he in fact decided that judge's had the power to decide whether a person should be protected in law or allowed to be killed.

The court order states that Stransham-Ford, can:

be assisted by a qualified medical doctor, who is willing to do so, to end his life, either by administration of a lethal agent (euthanasia) or by providing the Applicant with the necessary lethal agent to administer himself (assisted suicide).

The court order continues by stating that doctors are not obligated to accede to the request but the doctor that does accede to the request shall not be subject to prosecution.

According to the Citizen News:

Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesperson for the Justice Minister, said the Minister intended would apply for leave to appeal against the ruling, but could only do so when Judge Fabricius gave reasons for his ruling on Monday.

Justice Fabricius claimed that his decision was an exception to the law, but his decision actually challenges the validity of the law.

Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide gives one group of people, usually physicians, the right in law to cause the death of another group of people. The law needs to equally protect every citizen, especially when they are in a vulnerable time of their life.

Sean Davison – from inconsistent to unbelievable

By Paul Russell, Director of Hope Australia

     Paul Russell

     Paul Russell

We reported recently that the head of South Africa’s pro-euthanasia organisation had admitted at the Chicago gathering of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies (WFTRDS) that he had assisted in the death of a South African doctor in 2013.

We believe that this death should be investigated by the South African authorities and, if what Davison is saying is found to be true, he should be charged under South Africa’s criminal code.

Davison himself seems not too concerned, telling South African media that, “I would be worried if there was something to worry about.” He also curiously stated that he would not be willing to do the same again.

Link to the full article

I won't assist in euthanasia again

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Sean Davidon, who was previously convicted in New Zealand for assisting his mother’s death, last week he admitted to assisting a South African quadriplegic man to commit suicide, is now saying that he will never assist in euthanasia again.

Davidson, who should be investigated for his part in the death of Anrich Burger, a man who became a quadriplegic in 2005 after a car accident.

Link to the full article