South Africa – Medical doctor and patient wants doctors to kill their patients
A medical doctor and her patient, both terminally ill, are giving evidence in their bid to legalise euthanasia in South Africa. The actual legal challenge will only be heard in the Johannesburg High Court later this year but have been giving their evidence during virtual proceedings chaired by retired Judge CJ Claassen. The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), the Justice Minister, and the National Director of Public Prosecutions are opposing the application. The HPSCA has argued that palliative care in South Africa is sufficient enough to alleviate suffering. They also claim that assisted suicide could be abused by unscrupulous doctors and families who want to benefit from hastening a patient’s death. The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) will be bringing expert evidence from Oregon, Colombia, Canada, and the Netherlands where the right to die is legal. More
Portugal – Constitutional Court Rejects Euthanasia
Portuguese Parliament had earlier this year voted to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, comfortably approving five “right-to-die” bills. Now, Portugal’s Constitutional Court has rejected the parliament-approved bill seeking to legalize euthanasia, declaring that its text presented a threat to the principle of “inviolability of life.” The ruling noted the “excessively imprecise nature of the concept of unbearable suffering” contained in the bill, as well as lack of clarity on “the concept of severe irreversible damage.” As a result, the bill will now return to parliament, where the governing Socialist Party reportedly promised to simply reword the bill and attempt to pass it once more. For now, though, Portugal has avoided legalized euthanasia once more.
Catherine Robinson, a spokesperson for U.K. based Right to Life noted that “This is typical of euthanasia legislation and could eventually lead to its expansion. Why, after all, would we limit euthanasia only to those who are terminally ill and over 18 if they are otherwise in ‘unbearable’ pain? Children and adults can be in ‘unbearable’ pain without being terminally ill. If the justification for euthanasia lies in being in ‘unbearable’ pain then, it seems unfair to limit euthanasia to only those who are terminally ill.” Robinson also pointed to a report conducted by the Oregon Health Authority, which revealed that “only slightly more than a quarter of those who died by assisted suicide in Oregon listed ‘inadequate pain control, or concern about it’ as one of their end of life concerns. Far more significantly a full 94.3% of patients were concerned with being ‘less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable’. 93.1% were concerned with ‘losing autonomy’ and ‘loss of dignity’ was a concern of 71.8% of patients.” More
Latvia – Rejects Euthanasia Initiative
After a long debate, the Latvian Saeima rejected a citizen’s initiative to legalize euthanasia by a vote of 49 to 38. Opposition MP Viktors Valainis said euthanasia would be the easiest way for severely ill people to escape intolerable pain, yet it is “absolutely unacceptable” because it ignores a number of problems in palliative care. At the same time, the Member stated that he was prepared to do everything necessary to improve the medical sector in the country. Saeima deputy Anda Čakša recognized the topic of euthanasia as a call for help. She believes there are two important aspects – the accessibility of analgesia and palliative care and what are the people’s rights to refuse aggressive health treatment. However, the topic of euthanasia should not be on the table while the issue of palliative care remains unresolved. More