Switzerland Euthanasia Center Kills Nearly 900 Since Opening, More Brits

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 28, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Switzerland Euthanasia Center Kills Nearly 900 Since Opening, More Brits

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 28
, 2008

Zurich, Switzerland (LifeNews.com) — The Switzerland-based Dignitas euthanasia center released figures Wednesday about the people it has killed since opening. Dignitas says more people than ever are opting to have the staff take their lives and that the number of Britons going there to die is on the rise.

UK residents are now in the top three nationalities of the people who go to the euthanasia center.

The euthanasia center has killed 868 in assisted suicides since it began and 335 people in the last two years alone. About 85 percent of the people who die there are foreign nationals with the rest hailing from Switzerland.

Dignitas director Ludwig Minelli told The Sun newspaper that half of the people who die there are German and British and French residents account for most of the rest.

He claimed the euthanasia center uses a rigorous process to weed out potential applicants and claims most people who apply for an assisted suicide never undergo one.

"For every 100 applicants, only 12 are given the go-ahead by us. The rest either choose to wait or never get in touch again. People are eased knowing there is an emergency exit," he claimed.

However, the euthanasia group’s activity has not been without controversy.

In January 2007, it came under fire after a German woman apparently suffered tremendous pain when she died at one of its facilities. A 43-year-old women screamed in pain for over four minutes before her death.

Friends who accompanied her to her death told the newspaper the woman cried out, "I’m burning, I’m burning" and then fell into a coma. She was reportedly comatose for 38 minutes before finally succumbing to the drug.

Meanwhile, neighbors who live next-door to the Dignitas center on the outskirts of Zurich have complained 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.

Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture, has previously said Dignitas is doing a disservice to the disabled and elderly.

"Dignitas admits to having assisted the suicides of many people who were not terminally ill. As Minelli succinctly put it, ‘We never say no,’" Smith explained.

"Minelli’s position has a large constituency among euthanasia believers. Indeed, over the years, the movement has left many telltale signs that assisted suicide is not intended ultimately to be restricted to the imminently dying," he said.

Smith worries that, should Dignitas take its assisted suicide centers worldwide that a right to die will turn into a duty to die.

"Once assisted suicide is accepted in law and culture, the premises of radical autonomy and allowing killing to alleviate human suffering would conjoin, unleashing the irresistible power of logic that would push us inexorably toward the humanist nirvana of death on demand," Smith says.