The right for terminally ill medical patients to choose how and when they die has been a hot topic for many years, and a controversial bill proposed by Congress of the People (Cope) MP, Diedre Carter, may allow for this.
Written submissions on the private members’ bill Carter put forward concluded on Saturday, and received over 8 000 submissions.
The World Federation of Right to Die Societies will gather in Cape Town in September. This will allow for approximately 51 organisations, who advocate the rights of those who wish to make the decision on how their life will end while they are still competent enough to do so, to come together and exchange opinions on the bill.
It should be understood that this bill does not advocate for euthanasia to be legalized in South Africa, but rather for the natural process of death to occur without any 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,”Carter said to IOL.
She added that doctors and universities have been assisting in advocating for the bill.
A living will relay a terminally ill patient’s wishes while they are still competent to decide their own fate, and provides protection for doctors when they carry these wishes out at the same time.
A finding in the Supreme Court made in 2016 made the distinction that all medical treatment must be carried out with the express consent of the patient, and that treatment against the patient’s will is considered a form of assault.
The “Right to Die” bill aims to protect all parties involved – both doctor and patient.