WHILST some people are praying for long life,Desmond Tutu marked his 85th birthday by asking for the right to end his own life...na wah!
The anti-apartheid veteran said laws against helping people to die should be abolished.
He claimed the right to be ‘allowed to pass on to the next phase in the manner of my choice’.
The former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town made his call in a newspaper article in which he said: ‘Just as I have argued firmly for compassion and fairness in life, I believe that terminally ill people should be treated with the same compassion and fairness when it comes to their deaths.’
His appeal comes at a time when assisted dying campaigners in Britain have run into a barrier because of the refusal of MPs to weaken the safeguards built into criminal law.
Last year the Commons voted nearly three to one against an assisted dying Bill that would have allowed doctors to prescribe deadly drugs for dying patients. Anyone found guilty of helping someone kill themselves can face a 14-year jail sentence.
Dr Tutu, who is now emeritus archbishop of Cape Town, declared his support for assisted dying two years ago. He made his latest plea in an article for the Washington Post which was published as he attended a service at St George’s Cathedral in his home city.
‘I have prepared for my death and have made it clear that I do not wish to be kept alive at all costs,’ he said. ‘I hope I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life’s journey in the manner of my choice.’
He said he supported initiatives for assisted dying laws in Britain, the US, South Africa and elsewhere. ‘In refusing dying people the right to die with dignity, we fail to demonstrate the compassion that lies at the heart of Christian values,’ he said.
‘I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth. The time to act is now.’
Two years ago the archbishop, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1984, said of the prospect of assisted death: ‘I would say I wouldn’t mind.’
Yesterday he said: ‘I myself am even closer to the departures hall than arrivals, so to speak, and my thoughts turn to how I would like to be treated when the time comes.’
He added: ‘Terminally ill people have control over their lives, so why should they be refused control over their deaths? Why are so many instead forced to endure terrible pain and suffering against their wishes. Regardless of what you might choose for yourself, why should you deny others the right to make this choice?
‘For those suffering unbearably and coming to the end of their lives, merely knowing that an assisted death is open to them can provide immeasurable comfort.’
Assisted suicide is lawful in Belgium, the Netherlands and Oregon in the US.
British MPs voted last year by 330 votes to 118 against a law that would have allowed doctors to write lethal prescriptions for patients diagnosed to be dying. Supreme Court judges have used test cases to signal their support for assisted dying.