Desmond Tutu: I Want Option of Assisted Death

'Dying people should have the right to choose,' writes archbishop
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2016 9:20 AM CDT
Desmond Tutu: I Want Option of Assisted Death
Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu during a church service at St. George's Cathedral as he celebrates his 85th birthday in Cape Town, South Africa, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

On the same day that 2016's Nobel Peace Prize winner was announced, another Nobel laureate is making headlines with an opinion piece in the Washington Post—on making peace with life's end. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African activist who for years fought tirelessly for civil rights, writes that he's "been fortunate to have spent my time working for dignity for the living"—but now, as he turns 85 on Friday, "with my life closer to its end than its beginning, I wish to help give people dignity in dying." He argues that the terminally ill deserve "compassion and fairness" and that a "dignified assisted death" should be offered as an option right alongside palliative care.

Tutu cites advances in assisted deaths made in places such as Canada and California, but he adds there's lots of work to be done on this front elsewhere around the globe. And he notes he wasn't always on this side of the fence, especially for himself—he hedged a bit in a 2014 Guardian editorial, saying he "wouldn't mind" having someone help him die. He now says he's all in, noting how he's overcome his "lifelong opposition" to the process and that he's "made it clear that I do not wish to be kept alive at all costs." And even if someone can't take that final step themselves, Tutu doesn't believe one should deny others that alternative. "Dying people should have the right to choose how and when they leave Mother Earth," he says. Read his entire plea. (More opinion stories.)

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