Euthanasia Group Wants to Expand Assisted Suicide Services in Europe

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 17, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Euthanasia Group Wants to Expand Assisted Suicide Services in Europe Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 17, 2006

Zurich, Switzerland ( — A pro-euthanasia group in Switzerland that runs an assisted suicide clinic in Zurich wants to expand the number of people who go to it for help in killing themselves. The group wants to start conducting assisted suicides on people who aren’t terminally ill but suffer from chronic depression.

Since opening the clinic in 1988, Dignitas has killed more than 450 people, including 42 from England and many others who travel there from other European nations.

According to a UPI report, Ludwig Minelli, a Swiss attorney who runs the center, said he wants to begin helping people kill themselves who have been suffering from depression for the last 10 or more years.

Minelli also says he wants to open up a chain of the assisted suicide centers in other countries to expand the number of opportunities for depressed people to kill themselves.

He told the London Times newspaper he opened a new office in Germany recently and wants to expand to other nations where assisted suicide is illegal to erase the "taboo" associated with it. He also wants to teach people how to properly kill themselves.

"Many people who attempt suicide don’t know how to do it," he said, while pointing to his forehead. "They don’t even know how to shoot themselves. They aim here and just blow the front of the head off, and live on as a vegetable."

"We need to set up advisory centers where people can openly discuss problems and seek advice about methods and risks, without the fear of losing their freedom and being put in an institution," he told the London newspaper. "These centers can only be credible if they can offer assisted suicide."
But the head of a Christian doctors group says the euthanasia advocates fail to comprehend that people considering assisted suicide need help, not death.

Dr. Peter Saunders, general secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship, told UPI, "Minelli does not understand that attempting suicide is a call for help."

"Once the physical and psycho-spiritual needs are met the desire for suicide tends to go away," Dr. Saunders explained. "It is laughable to suggest that someone with Alzheimer’s, who cannot remember two minutes later what they told you, could have the capacity to understand and weigh up and make a decision on suicide. The potential for abuse is horrendous."

Even groups that back assisted suicide in England are distancing themselves from Minelli and his group. They’re pressing for a bill to legalize assisted suicide in the U.K. but not for mentally ill people.

The assisted suicide center came under fire in January for killing a woman suffering from a rare brain disease but who was not terminally ill.