Bernadette Wicks
Senior court reporter
3 minute read
1 Mar 2021
5:00 am

Right to live life on own terms is constitutional – why not death?

Bernadette Wicks

Do we have the right to die?

Picture: iStock

That’s the question at the heart of the bold constitutional challenge to South Africa’s laws against assisted dying for terminally ill patients that Johannesburg doctor Suzanne Walter and retiree Diethelm Harck have launched, set to kick off today. We don’t have an explicit right to die in that it’s not expressly set out in the constitution. But on Walter and Harck’s argument, it’s implicit in other rights – to dignity, to equality, to not be treated in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way and, in fact, to life. The constitution effectively affords us the right to live our lives on...