Switzerland Govt: Assisted Suicide Laws OK, Probe Launched in One Case

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 2, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Switzerland Govt: Assisted Suicide Laws OK, Probe Launched in One Case Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 2, 2006

Bern, Switzerland (LifeNews.com) — The Switzerland government says its laws governing assisted suicide are sufficient and its has no plans to place more restrictions on the practice, which is legalized there. Meanwhile, a probe has been launched into the case of a British man who killed himself at a Swiss euthanasia clinic.

The Swiss government has been under pressure from pro-life groups and others to tighten its laws because the nation has received a reputation as a safe have for assisted suicides.

Pro-euthanasia groups like Dignitas run euthanasia facilities, which invite residents of other nations to travel to Switzerland to kill themselves.

Justice Minister Christoph Blocher said "the cabinet had come to the conclusion that [new legislation] was not necessary," according to a SwissInfo news report.

The nation’s parliament had called on the government to examine the law and its decision to not review the statutes drew condemnation from three of the four political parties in the nation’s government.

Blocher indicated that the government review determined that a stronger nationwide law was not necessary since every assisted suicide case is different. He said guidelines put forward by the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences were more appropriate.

Blocher also told SwissInfo that the cabinet was against reversing the law to prohibit assisted suicide and has no plans to place restrictions on groups fostering "death tourism."

"All experts were unanimous on this question," Blocher told a news conference. "The law is sufficient here, too."

The only issue the cabinet said the government will take up is whether to restrict the use of some drugs in assisted suicides. It will examine the topic further later this year.

Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched into the death of a Wales man who traveled to Switzerland for an assisted suicide. Detective Chief Inspector Peter Azopardi of South Wales Police announced the probe.

Police indicated a man in his 40s from the Swansea area of south Wales was involved.

Azopardi said several people involved in arranging the assisted suicide have been interviewed and he will likely turn the case over to British prosecutors to determine if any laws were broken and it charges should be assessed.