Desmond Tutu, South Africa's former Anglican archbishop and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, recently celebrated his 85th birthday with an interesting message: He wants the option of an assisted death. Tutu has largely retired from public life, but is still considered the moral conscience of South Africa for his leading role in the fight against apartheid. Some were taken aback when Tutu said he wants the option to end his life when he chooses.
"As a Christian, I believe in the sanctity of life, and that death is a part of life," Tutu said in a recent video. "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." An assisted death is currently illegal in South Africa. The Supreme Court of Appeal reaffirmed that stance in December when it struck down a lower court's ruling that granted an applicant the right to euthanasia. Tutu, who has lived with prostate cancer for decades and has been in and out of the hospital in recent years, says he supports efforts around the globe to legalize the procedure. "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," he said.