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Court rules in favour of Stransham-Ford's assisted suicide

Robin Stransham-Ford asked the court to spare him “an undignified death”.

A judge's gavel. Picture: RSC Inc.

PRETORIA - The High Court in Pretoria on Thursday ruled in favour of Robin Stransham-Ford for an assisted death with no legal implication.

The 65-year-old terminally-ill cancer patient approached the court on Wednesday asking for an amendment to the law regarding assisted death without prosecution.

Stransham-Ford 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.

Lobby group Doctors for Life's Albu van Eeden said, "We are definitely going to appeal against this, we are also going to hear what other interested parties also plan to do but from our side we are going to appeal against this."

South Africa has no legislation pertaining to euthanasia.

The high court ruling has been received with mixed emotions from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and rights organization Dignity South Africa, which helped Stransham-Ford bring his case before the court.

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 a right to die movement called Dignity SA.

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