Neighbors of Switzerland Euthanasia Clinic Tired of Constant Corpse Removal

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 7, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Neighbors of Switzerland Euthanasia Clinic Tired of Constant Corpse Removal Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 7, 2006

Zurich, Switzerland ( — Pro-life groups in Switzerland have long opposed the "death tourism" that assisted suicide clinics located there foster. But the pro-euthanasia group that sponsors a death facility on the outskirts of Zurich is facing opposition from a new group of people — its neighbors.

Neighbors of the Dignitas clinic are complaining about the frequency of dead bodies taken from the apartment where the assisted suicides take place. Dignitas removes the corpses from the apartment via a communal lift that other residents use as well.

Dignitas started doing assisted suicides in the Zurich flat eight years ago and more than 40 British residents have taken their lives there, not including residents of other nations.

Since the group opened the assisted suicide facility, more than 450 people have killed themselves there. The bodies are placed in a zippered bag and transported in the three person lift downstairs.

But the London Guardian reports that neighboring residents have had enough.

"Almost every day the bodies of people who have chosen to kill themselves are taken down in the lift. It’s horrid and I’ve had enough," 52 year-old Gloria Sonny said.

"We call it the ‘House of Horrors,’" Sonny added. "This is meant to be a residential flat but some days you’d think it was a morgue."

Sonny and other residents have started collecting signatures for the local city council to take action against the euthanasia clinic.

Other residents are considering moving after having been traumatized by seeing living people go up the lift and coming down in body bags.

"It’s very creepy," Kelvin Leneveu said. He told the newspaper he lives on the third floor, one floor under the euthanasia clinic.

"The floors are thin and when we hear movements upstairs we know that means they’re up there, and someone’s going to die," he said.

"The look in their eyes haunts me, particularly if they are young," Sonny told the newspaper.

Sonny told the Guardian that support has even come from euthanasia backers. "Some people admire the charity but are horrified that they use communal areas," she said.

Dignitas’s founder, Ludwig Minelli, would not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.

Opposition to the assisted suicides appears to be growing not just from those who oppose the practice but those who oppose both the reputation Switzerland is getting as well as the cost.

With each assisted suicide, police are called to the apartment and must watch a video of the death to prove that the assisted suicide was voluntary. The police time is adding up and costs 500,000 Swiss francs ($300,000) annually.

Gerhard Fischer, an MP with the Evangelical People’s Party, told the newspaper that he also worries some vulnerable people are being talked into agreeing to die.

"People who are disturbed in some way and want to end it all need help to live not to die," he said.