SA assisted suicide case in court

A terminally ill patient has approached the courts requesting an assisted death without prosecution.

FILE: 65-year-old Robin Stransham-Ford says he has only weeks left to live. Picture: Giovanna Gerbi/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Dignity South Africa on Wednesday said it hoped to see a change in legislation on assisted suicide.

This as the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria deliberated on an application.

A terminally ill cancer patient approached the court on Wednesday asking for an amendment to the law regarding assisted death without prosecution.

Robin Stransham-Ford, 65, has only two weeks left to live and is asking the court to spare him what he says is an undignified death.

According to current law, doctors who help patients die could face jail time of up to 14 years.

Dignity SA's Sean Davidson says the case could spark a revision of South African law.

"He [Stransham-Ford] would be given the medication to die peacefully rather than the terribly undignified death he is currently experiencing. Should the court rule in his favour, we are optimistic that will lead to a law change so that other people in a similar situation could also have an assisted death."

Brittany Maynard, a terminally ill 29-year-old woman, took her life in November.

Maynard, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, announced plans to take medication to die when her pain became unbearable.

She became the face of the Right-to-Die Movement.

A Vatican bioethics official condemned her death, describing it as "an absurdity".