Court gives win to euthanasia activist (Sth Africa)

NZ Herald 9 May 2015
Five years after Sean Davison was arrested for helping his mother to die, an organisation he founded has won a landmark victory allowing assisted suicide in South Africa.

Auckland-born Dr Davison served five months’ home detention in Dunedin in 2011 for giving a lethal dose of morphine to his mother, Dr Pat Davison, to relieve her pain when she was dying of cancer at the age of 85.

Last week, a South African High Court judge ruled that a doctor could legally help another dying cancer patient, Johannesburg lawyer Robin Stransham-Ford, to end his life “either by administration of a lethal agent or by providing the applicant with the necessary legal agent to administer himself”.

The judgment, and a similar judgment in the Canadian Supreme Court in February, has forced the issue of euthanasia on to the political agenda of reluctant Parliaments across the English-speaking world.

Terminally ill Wellington brain cancer patient Lecretia Seales, 42, has filed a claim seeking the right for a doctor to help her die.

It will be heard in the High Court on May 25. Her lawyer, Dr Andrew Butler, said he would rely on the Canadian and South African cases as precedents.

“Lecretia has been very clear that she thinks it’s a topic Parliament should be addressing,” he said.

A bill promoted by Peter Brown when he was a New Zealand First MP to allow euthanasia for terminally ill patients was lost by only two votes in 2003, and Dr Davison said he was surprised New Zealand had made no progress on the issue since then.

“It’s a basic human right, at the core of our humanity,” he said. “This is what New Zealand should be leading the world on.”
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