Switzerland Govt May Ban Assisted Suicide Clinics, Would Affect Suicide Tourism

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 24, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Switzerland Govt May Ban Assisted Suicide Clinics, Would Affect Suicide Tourism

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 24
, 2009

Zurich, Switzerland (LifeNews.com) — The Switzerland government is considering a proposal that would ban the assisted suicide clinics run by the pro-euthanasia group Dignitas. The move would end the practice of so-called suicide tourism and move the European nation out of the category with Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The 1942 Swiss law allowing assisted suicide has led to a practice where residents of other nations, especially England and Germany, travel to the country to end their lives.

Federal government officials said last week that they want to discuss "legal barriers and a ban on organized suicide assistance."

The proposal would limit who could use assisted suicide such as limiting it to those who are close to death.

But EXIT, a Swiss-based pro-euthanasia group that kills Swiss patients in assisted suicides, is opposed to the move and claims it would put more burdens on doctors and patients.

Wesley J. Smith, an American bioethicist, responded to the news.

"Apparently certain elements of the Swiss Government are sick and tired of the travesty of suicide tourism," he said. "Unsurprisingly, the organized suicide community objects."

"I wish the Swiss would outlaw assisted suicide altogether, but stopping the organizations that prey on the weak, vulnerable, and despairing would be a good step in the right direction," he added.

The Dignitas group was recently exposed by a former worker who said it preyed on the vulnerable and ran suicide shops in disgusting conditions.

A former worker for a Dignitas suicide clinic, Soraya Wernli, spent two and a half years working at the suicide clinic. She told the London Daily Mail newspaper in January she began to see the suicide clinic not as the compassionate place for ending lives but as a money-making killing machine taking advantage of the disabled and terminally ill.

In May, Dignitas came under investigation for allegedly killing a man with depression. Under the euthanasia law in Switzerland, someone can only be killed in an assisted suicide if they suffer from a terminal illness.

Swiss Judge Philippe Barboni has ordered an investigation of the death of Andrei Haber, a Romanian who lived in Fribourg.

Relatives notified Swiss authorities that he had planned to kill himself at the Dignitas facility.

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