Archbishop Desmond Tutu wants right to “assisted death”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu wants the option of an assisted death.

The Anglican Church – of which Mr Tutu is a member – is against assisted dying.

The South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate, social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid.

Writing in the Washington Post newspaper on his 85th birthday, Tutu said he did “not wish to be kept alive at all costs”.

He came out in favour of assisted dying in 2014, without specifying if he personally wanted to have the choice.

He was hospitalised last month for surgery to treat recurring infections.

“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,” Tutu wrote.

“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.”

There is no specific legislation in South Africa governing assisted dying.

But in a landmark ruling in April 2015, a South African court granted a terminally ill man the right to die, prompting calls for a clarification of the laws in cases of assisted death.

This is not the first time Tutu has come out against the church, however.

He is an outspoken supporter of gay rights, and has openly criticised conservative Christian attitudes to homosexuality.

In 2013, he said would “refuse to go to a homophobic heaven” in favour of “the other place”.

At the time, he added: “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”

Earlier this year, Tutu blessed his daughter Mpho’s marriage with her female partner.

This was despite South African Anglican law on marriage.

It states “holy matrimony is the lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman”.

He also supported an amendment to make abortion more readily available in South Africa in the mid-90s, despite personal reservations.


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