State expected to appeal ruling that Robin Stransham-Ford can be assisted to die

APRIL 30, 2015

The State is expected to appeal a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday that terminally ill prostate cancer patient, Robin Stransham-Ford, can be assisted to commit suicide. In the landmark ruling, a medical doctor, who assists a patient requesting to die, cannot be prosecuted.

Stransham-Ford says his cancer has reduced the quality of his life and he wants to die now and with dignity. He had also asked the court to rule that a doctor who accedes to a patient's request to be assisted to end his or her life is guilty of no wrongdoing.

The Departments of Justice and Health, the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) and National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) were opposing the application.

The opposing parties argue that if Stransham-Ford wishes to end his life - he should not seek a helping hand. They argue that if granted, the matter will result in a flood of assisted suicide requests. 

According to the SABC, the state will appeal the decision.

Prostate cancer kills over 2 000 men in the country annually. All men over 40 are at high risk and are advised to go for regular screenings.

The case is a first in South African legal history.