Bill to al­low sick to refuse treat­ment

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TSHEGO LEPULE

A BILL is set to be in­tro­duced that will en­force the rights of ter­mi­nally-ill and dy­ing pa­tients to refuse med­i­cal care that pro­longs life.

Writ­ten sub­mis­sions for comment on the pro­posed pri­vate mem­ber’s bill closed yes­ter­day with Cope stat­ing that they had re­ceived more than 8 000 sub­mis­sions from in­ter­ested par­ties on the mat­ter.

The right for ter­mi­nally pa­tients to choose when their life should end has been a con­tentious is­sue in the coun­try for sev­eral years, with nu­mer­ous de­bates around eu­thana­sia do­ing the rounds.

This as the World Fed­er­a­tion of Right to Die So­ci­eties will gather in Cape Town next month to hold a con­fer­ence that brings to­gether more than 51 or­gan­i­sa­tions that work to pro­mote and pro­tect the rights of those who wish to de­ter­mine the way their lives end.

But Cope MP Dei­dre Carter said their bill was not about as­sisted sui­cide but rather al­low­ing the nat­u­ral process of death to oc­cur with­out in­ter­ven­tion from doc­tors.

“The Na­tional Health Act al­ready al­lows for a pa­tient to refuse med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion, the prob­lems come in when you are so sick that you can­not speak for your­self and are kept alive on a ma­chine when it is no longer your wish,” she said.

Dig­nity SA’s Willem Land­man said the ad­vanced direc­torate or liv­ing will serves to re­lay a pa­tient’s wishes around when care should be with­held and pro­vides pro­tec­tion for doc­tors when they act on those wishes.

“The im­por­tant thing to note is that it is sim­ply mak­ing ex­plicit what is al­ready in our Con­sti­tu­tion and Na­tional Health Act but it is not men­tioned by name and that is why we want to make it ex­plicit be­cause some doc­tors don’t act on it be­cause they fear civil or crim­i­nal ac­tion,” he said.

“It is ba­si­cally about stop­ping treat­ment so that nat­u­ral death can take place. A find­ing of the Supreme Court in 2016 made it quite clear that treat­ment must be with con­sent and that treat­ment against our will is as­sault. But you get cases ev­ery day where doc­tors do not know whether they can re­spect a liv­ing will, its sta­tus is not clear al­though it is im­plicit in the Na­tional Health Act and is sup­ported by the val­ues in the Con­sti­tu­tion but you get it ev­ery day where doc­tors say, no if I stop treat­ment now I may be sued by a fam­ily mem­bers. This serves to pro­tect ev­ery­one.

“Many peo­ple feel very strongly about this, they see it as eu­thana­sia, which it is not but the point is we have the right to chose when we are com­pe­tent to do so. Some might dis­agree with that and call it play­ing God.”

Carter said they have been in­un­dated with re­sponses.

“We have had doc­tors and uni­ver­si­ties as­sist­ing us.”

‘Many peo­ple feel very strongly about this’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.