The Pretoria High Court has ruled in favour of former advocate Robin Stransham-Ford’s court bid to end his life.
65- year-old Stransham-Ford was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in late 2013.
With only two weeks left to live, terminally ill Stransham-Ford approached the court on Wednesday asking Judge Fabricius to amend the law concerning assisted death without prosecution or disciplinary proceedings. In essence, if granted, the order would allow a doctor to give him drugs that he would use to end his own life, without being sued, facing criminal charges or losing his/her licence.
Currently, the law states that any doctor who helps a patient die could face up to 14 years imprisonment.
Stransham-Ford a former advocate from Cape Town, is no longer able to take care of himself and approached the court asking the Judge to spare him what he calls an undignified death.
Several organisations including the Health Professions Council of South Africa opposed the application.
Judge Hans Fabricius, presiding in the North Gauteng High Court said,”The applicant is entitled to be assisted by a medical practitioner either by the administration of a lethal agent or by providing the applicant with the necessary lethal agent to administer himself.”
The landmark trial is the first case of assisted suicide in South Africa and has proven to be a significant one as it could be used to determine whether South African doctors can in future assist terminally-ill patients to end their lives.
Professor Willem Landman, from the right to die movement called Dignity SA said it was a “fantastic ruling”.
South Africa has no legislation pertaining to euthanasia.