Constitution protects right to life and death

"PRIVATISE people" and "I am not a national resource" proclaimed libertarian bumper stickers in response to the persecution and prosecution of the late Dr Jacob Kevorkian, the world’s best-known assisted-suicide practitioner.

"Nationalise people" is the unstated slogan of the opposing side, the people who called Kevorkian the "Doctor of Death". Authoritarians want a "nanny state" to force us to be healthy and alive, even if we prefer unhealthy lives or death. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi epitomises this view.

These opposing paradigms define those who eulogise or denounce last week’s assisted suicide judgment. Judge Hans Fabricius ruled in favour of an application, opposed by the government and the Health Professions Council, to allow assisted suicide. The applicant, Robin Stransham-Ford, died hours before the ruling. That would normally render the issue "moot" in that there was no longer an applicant with a right to die. The ruling was justified as being in the "public interest" and "interests of justice".

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