CHURCHES DEBATE ASSISTED SUICIDE
By: Amanda Mqadi
Most of the Christian, Muslim and Hindu groups are struggling with the debate over legalizing assisted suicide in South Africa and believe it is morally wrong.
The debate was sparked after the Pretoria High Court granted a request for cancer patient and Advocate Robin Stransham-Ford to have an assisted suicide.
The order was not carried out because Stransham-Ford died hours before the court ruled in favor of his application to be allowed to die with the help of doctors.
However the issue has sparked differing views, with Dignity SA, an organization that assisted.
Stransham-Ford with the court case, campaigning for a change in the legislation to allow for assisted dying.
Newlands West resident Masood Mohammed, disagreed with this view and said that assisted suicide was a deliberate act to kill another person. He said the act of assisted suicide went against a fundamental Muslim principle of refraining from killing a living being.
“According to the Muslim faith, suicide is a cruel act as it causes grief to others and is believed to deprive them of spiritual development. If I were to be sick, assisted suicide would be the last thing I (would) consider. It is a sin and it is totally against my belief. I just hope it won’t be legalized in South Africa,” said Mohammed.
Naveen Patel, a Hindu priest had a similar view. “Most Hindus would say that a doctor should not accept a patient’s request for death since this will cause the soul and body to be separated at an unnatural time.
Other Hindus believe that assisted suicide cannot be allowed because it breaches the teaching of doing no harm,” said Patel.
Some Christians are also against assisted suicide because they say that God gives life and human beings are made in God’s image.
Pastor Muzi Gumede of the God’s Gospel Church emphasized the importance of not interfering with the natural process of faith.
“Birth and death are part of the life processes which God has created, so we should respect them.
Therefore no human being has the authority to take the life of any innocent person, even if that person wants to die,” said Gumede.
Kevin Mthethwa, a patient who has recently found out that he has MDR Tb said if the situation became worse; he would wait to die naturally.
“I don’t let sickness get to me. What I’ve realized is that the more you sleep in bed, the more the body realizes that you’re sick. I believe God will let me die when the time comes, until then I won’t let someone take my life away,” said Mthethwa.
According to Health 24, the rules of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) don’t allow assisted suicide.
The South African Medical Association (SAMA) chairperson, Dr Mzukisi Grootboom said that pain couldn’t be viewed as a persuasive enough reason to resort to the extreme measure to end one’s life.
“The HPCSA’s policies remain in force, and such activities by practitioners could result in disciplinary sanctions by the HPCSA,” said Grootboom.