Medical Ethics: Medical Students’ Perspectives on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide and Their Views on Legalising These Practices in SA


Euthanasia/physician assisted suicide have been a controversial and sometimes taboo topic for a long time, not only in SA but also internationally. A recent (SA) judicial case has seen the topic debated again. Consensus on accepting or abolishing these practices in SA has yet to be reached. All relevant role players need to be adequately engaged before policy can be informed.

The objectives were to determine the views of future doctors (medical students) regarding euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and to ascertain their stance on its legalisation in South Africa (SA).

Many factors influenced participants’ responses, but differences in opinion between and within the various religious groups were particularly evident in the responses received/ More than half the respondents in this study were open to legalising euthanasia/PAS, substantially more than in previous studies. However, only 41.9% of respondents would consider performing euthanasia/ PAS, for certain patients. Views of other healthcare workers as well as the public are required before policy can be informed.


R K Jacobs and M Hendricks


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