Doctors Can Kill -- Active Euthanasia in South Africa
Medicine and Law 2003; 22(3): 551-560
Medical practitioners in South Africa will be given the legal right to end the lives of terminally ill patients. This is the practice of active euthanasia, the procedure whereby a medical doctor or a professional nurse can end the life of a terminally ill patient at the patient's request, by providing or administering a lethal dosage of a drug. Voluntary active euthanasia is included in a Draft Bill--The End of Life Decisions Act--which form part of a report of the South African Law Commission, wherein regulations regarding the end-of-life decisions are formulated. Specifically, it provides that a medical practitioner may under certain conditions stop the treatment of a patient whose life functions are being maintained artificially. Further, that a competent person may refuse life-sustaining treatment if he chooses to die. A medical practitioner may also give effect to a patient's living will in which the patient has requested the cessation of treatment. The Act also provides for the options of active voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.
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