Archbishop Tutu, 85, Records Video Saying He Wants Assisted-Dying Option


Nobel Peace Prize Winner Endorses Aid-in-Dying Bills Worldwide

(Cape Town, South Africa – Oct. 7, 2016) Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, 85, has
recorded a video saying he wants the option of assisted dying “when the time comes …
to pass” and endorsing bills worldwide to authorize this end-of-life option. The
video with English language and Spanish language subtitles and transcripts is posted
at: He also has written an oped with the
same message published in The Washington Post.

Two years ago, the legendary Christian human rights leader authored an op-ed in The
Guardian announcing the reversal of his lifelong opposition to assisted dying as an
option for terminally ill adults to stop unbearable end-of-life suffering. But he
was more ambiguous about whether he personally wanted the option: “I would say I
wouldn’t mind,” wrote the Nobel Peace Prize laureate at the time.

The new video of Archbishop Tutu, the first black Archbishop of the Anglican Church
of South Africa, was recorded in June for Dignity in Dying and Compassion & Choices.
The two nonprofit organizations are the leading national advocates for medical aid
in dying as an end-of-life option in the United Kingdom and United States,

“As a Christian, I believe in the sanctity of life and that death is a part of life.
I hope that when the time comes, I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on
to the next phase of life’s journey in the manner of my choice,” says Archbishop
Tutu, who turned 85 today and has prostate cancer, in the video.

The video is timely because Compassion & Choices Action Fund is supporting a
citizen-led referendum modeled after the Oregon Death with Dignity Act to authorize
medical aid in dying that has qualified for theNovember ballot in Colorado. The
opposition campaign is mainly funded by the Colorado Catholic Conference, including
more than $1 million from the Archdiocese of Denver. The Economist recently
concluded: “…the groundswell of support for Initiative 145 [now called Prop. 106],
and Colorado’s demography, suggest that it stands a good chance of being passed.”
Assisted dying for terminally ill adults was authorized in Canada in June 2016.

“People around the globe, of every religion, recognize Archbishop Tutu’s
unquestionable moral authority. His very personal endorsement of medical aid in
dying will comfort terminally ill adults suffering in agony worldwide,” said
Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, who was an emergency room and
intensive care nurse for 25 years before becoming an attorney and co-authoring the
1994 Oregon Death with Dignity Act in the annex of the First Unitarian Church in
Portland, Oregon. “His endorsement is a call to authorize this end-of-life option
internationally, as a matter of mercy and compassion.”

“Archbishop Tutu has fought admirably throughout his life for people to have their
fundamental rights. His integrity and commitment to doing the right thing makes his
support for assisted dying incredibly powerful. As he makes clear in his latest
announcement, the right for terminally ill people to die with dignity in the manner
and timing of their choosing should be given attention and respect” added Sarah
Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying in the United Kingdom. “We urge
political and religious leaders around the world to take heed of Archbishop Tutu’s
words, namely to ensure that terminally ill people are shown compassion and their
choices supported.”

Aid-in-dying bills are under consideration in the District of Columbia, and New
Jersey in the United States. Dignity in Dying has supported legislation for the
United Kingdom, which is modelled after the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, and
continues to campaign for a change in the law to allow assisted dying for terminally
ill, mentally capable adults. While an Assisted Dying Bill was defeated in the UK
one year ago, Archbishop Tutu is one of a number of high profile celebrities,
doctors and clerics to come out in support of the campaign in the UK during the last
four months.

“My friend, Lord Carey [the retired Archbishop of Canterbury], has passionately
argued for an assisted-dying law in the United Kingdom,” Archbishop Tutu says in the
video. “His initiative has my blessing and support as do similar initiatives in my
home country, South Africa, in the United States, New Zealand and parts of the
European Union, and right across the world.”

“People who are terminally ill should have the option of dignified and compassionate
assisted dying, alongside the wonderful palliative care that already exists,”
concludes Archbishop Tutu in the video. “I pray that politicians, lawmakers and
religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens
make in departing Mother Earth with dignity and love.”


Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the
end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an
assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high
quality end-of-life care. For more information, visit:

Compassion & Choices is the oldest nonprofit working to improve care and expand
options for the end of life in the United States, with 450,000 members nationwide.
For more information, visit: