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Assisted euthanasia ruling sparks religious debate

A court granted a terminal cancer patient his application for a physician-assisted suicide.

A court granted terminal cancer patient Robin Stransham-Ford his application for a physician assisted suicide. Picture: Saps.

JOHANNESBURG - The decision by a Pretoria High Court to grant an order for an assisted suicide has now sparked a religious debate.

This week, the court granted terminal cancer patient Robin Stransham-Ford his application for a physician-assisted suicide.

The 65-year-old died hours before he could benefit from the eventual ruling in his favour.

He had approached the court on Wednesday asking for an amendment to the law regarding assisted death without prosecution.

The court also ruled that the doctor who would have helped him perform the procedure would not have been held liable for prosecution.

But medical professionals say while no criminal action would have been taken, the doctor involved would hace be held ethically liable by the Health Professions Council.

Legal experts have also weighed in, saying the highly contested decision would have to be tested through an appeal.

Now some religious groups have also spoken out in criticism of the court's decision.

The Christian Action Networks Taryn Hodgson said, "It's dangerous to put the decision on who lives or dies into the hands of a doctor. There's a huge difference between allowing someone to die naturally and active euthanasia."

Last year, 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 right to die movement Dignity SA.