Mandela’s Situation Sparks End Of Life Discussions

The critical health issues of South Africa’s former president are sparking end-of-life discussions.

Credit: AP

JOHANNESBURG (July 13, 2013)--End-of-life decisions are the focus of a growing discussion in South Africa, where former President Nelson Mandela has been hospitalized for five weeks.

Graca Michel, Mandela's wife, said Friday she is "less anxious" about her husband's health than she was a week ago.

Friends and family members who have visited Mandela say the former president is responsive.

They say they feel he is communicative through facial and eye movements.

He requires mechanical assistance to breathe, support he may require for the rest of his life.

Sean Davison, the founder of DignitySA, a group working to legalize suicide for the terminally ill, says Mandela's critical health has made death and dying a big topic of discussion in South Africa.

Davison said that's good because most people in Western society avoid talking about the topic.

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