How can it be, in 2019, so many voices crying into the night in unbearable pain, pleading for a good death, a peaceful death, a compassionate death. Professor Sean Davison, who was convicted in New Zealand of assisting in the suicide of his terminally-ill mother in 2011, was charged in South Africa with three premeditated murders, each carrying a minimum life sentence. A June 19th plea bargain sentenced Sean to three years House Arrest and a five-year Suspended Sentence, meaning he will be sent to prison if he commits a crime during those five years. Sean has been a professor of biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape since 2004. He has supervised their forensic DNA laboratory, working with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to identify the remains of anti-apartheid activists. Sean also designed a DNA kit to help identify suspects in gang rapes, a service that is provided for free to rape victims. As the founder of the right-to-die organization DignitySA, the professor was ecstatic when assisted dying legislation was passed in S.A. in 2015. Unfortunately, the Appeals Court reversed that decision.
Here are the three men Professor Davison was accused of murdering:
1) ANRICH BURGER, a medical doctor, became a quadriplegic after a car accident in 2005. He suffered severe nerve pain in his legs and was unable to consume medication on his own.
2) JUSTIN VARIAN had a stroke in 2010; was diagnosed with motor neuron disease one year later; and remained bedridden and in excruciating pain.
3) RICHARD HOLLAND, a sportsman, had a bicycle accident in 2012 that resulted in severe brain injuries: the loss of motor functions; and an inability to communicate; leaving him in acute pain, with migraines and muscle spasticity.
Professor Davison was strategically targeted for arrest, just as he was leaving Cape Town to join his family and a new life in Australia. Who would trade places with Anrich Burger, Justin Varian, or Richard Holland? The fact that people, living in countries that prohibit assisted dying, are forced to endure a long and excruciating demise, is poignant and cruel.