IN FOCUS: THE INHERENT WORTH (DIGNITY) OF HUMAN LIFE(First trimester 2022)
IN FOCUS: THE INHERENT WORTH (DIGNITY) OF HUMAN LIFE
At Cause for Justice (CFJ) we believe that each human life carries equal value and that every human being is entitled to equal benefit and protection of the law. We recognise and are committed to promoting the pre-eminent worth of all (and not only some) members of the human family.
That is why we defend parents’ right to bury a child that died while in the womb – and oppose the selective abortion of babies with disabilities and oppose the legalising of any form of euthanasia in South Africa.
While millions of South Africans believe, as we do, in the inherent worth (dignity or sanctity) of human life, there are alarming developments (such as those referred to above) that threaten and directly oppose this self-evident truth.
In this overview blog, we will look at some of the causes Cause for Justice has been engaging in during the first trimester of 2022 to uphold the value of life, and the fundamental right to life in South Africa.
WALTER (COURT CASE)
Update (14 June 2022)
The Walter trial was set down to be heard in the Johannesburg High Court for four to six weeks from 3 May 2022, with Cause for Justice participating in the case as a ‘friend of the court’ party.
On 11 April 2022, the matter was abruptly removed from the court roll in order to allow the parties additional time to finalise outstanding expert evidence reports. Once attended to, the matter will be re-enrolled for hearing.
What is this cause about – what is at stake?
The Walter case is a legal challenge against the total criminal prohibition of euthanasia in South African law – specifically, the prohibition of physician assisted suicide (PAS) and physician assisted euthanasia (PAE). Both PAS and PAE are prohibited under current South African law and are treated either as murder (unlawful intentional killing) or culpable homicide (unlawful negligent killing).
The untimely and unlawful loss of human life is a tragedy. Legalising the killing of human beings has far-reaching societal consequences. All human rights are anchored in the inherent value of human life. That is why reducing the inherent worth of human life to equate it with one’s experience/enjoyment/quality of life, inevitably erodes all other fundamental rights.
- PAS refers to suicide committed by a patient which was facilitated by some ‘means’ (such as prescribing a drug or by providing information – such as an indication of a lethal dosage) provided by a physician who was aware of the patient’s intent to commit suicide.
- PAE or ‘active voluntary euthanasia’ refers the killing of a patient by a physician through measures such as administering a lethal dosage of a drug.
However well-intentioned, PAS and PAE is not ‘medical treatment’ or an acceptable healthcare response to human sickness and suffering, whether caused by physical or psychological illness or medical condition. The bedrock constitutional principle remains: all human lives have inherent worth and are of inestimable value. PAS and PAE does not protect human dignity. On the contrary, it destroys it.
We Need Your Support
Your contributions enable us to continue protecting the right to life and to advocate for the inherent dignity (worth) of all human life, even when pain and suffering causes a loss of quality of life. Please consider donating to this cause by visiting our Donate page.
Learn more about the Walter case:
- Read our most recent press release.
VOICE OF THE UNBORN BABY (COURT CASE)
Update (14 June 2022)
The Constitutional Court is preparing its judgment, which is expected to be delivered before the end of the second quarter of 2022. The Court will take into consideration all the arguments and evidence that were presented to it.
We remain convinced that there is only one appropriate outcome to the case – the one that acknowledges the humanity of unborn babies and advances the constitutional value of human dignity.
“It is not only parents who have an interest in how the remains of their unborn children are treated, but society. We are all demeaned in a sense, if parents are denied a choice and children are disposed of as medical waste.”
– Advocate Darryl Cooke, CFJ’s external legal counsel, in argument before the Constitutional Court in the Voice of the Unborn Baby case
What is this case about – what is at stake?
The value of human dignity entails that all human beings, including unborn human children, have worth and ought to be treated with respect. Prohibiting parents from burying the remains of children that died prior to live birth, not only violates parents’ rights but amounts to treating human beings as mere objects, comparable to surgically removed biological tissue and non-essential body parts.
On 4 November 2021, Cause for Justice presented legal arguments in the Constitutional Court hearing of the Voice of the Unborn Baby NPC v Minister of Home Affairs, as a ‘friend of the court’ party asking the court to recognise and protect the value of unborn human life. Disrespecting the worth (dignity) of unborn children is not consistent with the Constitutional value of human dignity.
We Need Your Support
Your contributions enable us to continue advancing the right to life and the inherent worth of unborn babies. Please consider supporting this cause.
To learn more about the Voice of the Unborn Baby case:
- Listen to radio interviews and read media articles on our ‘In the press’ page.
- Watch our oral submissions to the Constitutional Court (at 01:45:13 to 02:01:28 of the recording).
- Visit our dedicated cause page.
OTHER LIFE-RELATED LAW AND POLICY DEVELOPMENTS
South African Law Reform Commission Project 148: Domestication of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
During 2021, the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) embarked on the process of domesticating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The purpose of the UNCRPD is to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”.
Since delivering written submissions to the SALRC at the end of June 2021, CFJ continuously followed the progress of Project 148. The SALRC is currently developing its discussion paper and expects to publish it for public input soon.
Our objective is to ensure that the constitutional values of, and rights to, human dignity and life of persons with disabilities are protected and promoted in the context of selective abortion and euthanasia. We agree with UN human rights experts that “disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly”.
South African law should not enable access to euthanasia based largely on having a disability or disabling conditions. We oppose ‘ableist assumptions’ about the inherent ‘quality’ or ‘worth’ of the lives of persons with disabilities – and are committed to ensuring that South African laws uphold and advance the full and equal enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms by persons with disabilities.
- Read our press release to learn more.
HELP US TO CONTINUE ADVOCATING FOR THE INHERENT WORTH (HUMAN DIGNITY) OF ALL MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN FAMILY
The South African Constitution recognises the inherent value (worth or dignity) of all human beings – that is, of each and every member of the human family. The right to human dignity and the right to life cannot be separated from one another.
Cause for Justice is committed to ensuring that South African laws and policies recognise and advance the values of the Constitution and the rights and freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights.
If you are passionate about protecting or advocating for the sanctity of life, we invite you to support our work by way of regular or ad-hoc donations. Without your contributions, we will not be able to continue taking up worthy causes such as these.
Cause for Justice is a registered public benefit organisation for South African income tax purposes and may issue section 18A receipts, which entitle donors to claim tax deductions in respect of donations made to Cause for Justice.