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International Catholic Entity Initiates Campaign against Euthanasia in South Africa

The Official Logo of CitizenGo. Credit: CitizenGo

The African branch of the International Catholic activist organization, CitizenGo Africa, has initiated an online campaign to stop ongoing discussions about legalizing euthanasia in South Africa.

In their Tuesday, August 17 petition addressed to the Speaker of the National Assembly in South Africa, officials of CitizenGo Africa express worry about the debate, saying legalizing euthanasia is likely to become a breeding ground for activists who have no regard for the sanctity of human life and the family. 

In the online petition that seeks 2,000 signatures to support the campaign against mercy killing, CitizenGo Africa officials demand that “you (speaker) stop immediately the discussion around the legalization of suicide in South Africa.”

“Assisted Suicide takes the right to life of a human being whose life should end at natural death,” they say. 

In February, a medical doctor and her patient, both terminally ill, applied to the Johannesburg High Court to have assisted suicide legalized in the country.  

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The petitioners also want the National Assembly to enact legislation to give effect to their rights to self-determination.

The issue of assisted suicide had also been presented in a South African court in 2015 when lawyer Robert Stransham-Ford, who was dying, urgently petitioned the Pretoria High Court for an order to have a doctor give him a lethal dose to end his life.

While Judge Hans Fabricius ruled in Stransham-Ford’s favor, the petitioner died naturally two hours before the judgement was delivered.

On Tuesday, August 17, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) overturned a ruling by a lower court granting a terminally ill patient the right to die, the Justice Ministry said, thereby upholding South Africa’s laws forbidding assisted suicide.

In 2016, South Africa’s SCA ruled in favor of the State, which had appealed the verdict, and overturned the ruling that had granted a terminally ill patient the right to assisted death.

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SCA judges ruled that the precedent, which had been set in Stransham-Ford’s case, “ceased to exist once the applicant died before the order could be granted.”

The SCA further decided that Stransham-Ford’s matter was “an inappropriate case in which to develop the common law of murder and culpable homicide.”

In their online statement, CitizenGo Africa officials say that legitimizing euthanasia in South Africa would “open a pandora's box and expose the aged, the vulnerable and the terminally ill people to deaths that they would not ask for as the doctors will be at liberty to terminate their lives.”

“Assisted Suicide will not only open a pandora's box on murder and death on demand but also will place South Africa as a country that disregards human dignity,” CitizenGo Africa officials add.

They continue, “A human being naturally has a right to life from conception till natural death but it seems now South African activists want to place the lives of the aged, the sick and even the vulnerable in the hands of doctors who already have been killing innocent pre-born babies through abortion.”

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South Africa has previously legalized abortion, homosexuality, and comprehensive sexuality education.

CitizenGo is the international arm of Hazte Oir, the ultra-conservative Spanish Catholic organization that was founded in 2013 in Madrid, Spain as an advocacy foundation. It promotes online petitions in some 50 countries across the globe, defending Christian values including opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia.