June 15, 2012 (HLIWorldWatch.org) - Members of Human Life International (HLI) Switzerland are helping to organize a pro-life conference in Zurich, Switzerland on June 15 in opposition to a meeting of euthanasia activists from around the world.

“Our aim is not to disrupt their conference,” said HLI Switzerland Secretary Christoph Keel. “Our aim is to put other arguments to the visitors of the congress. We are going to organize discussions and we will be there at the entrance (of the conference) to distribute leaflets.”

Representatives from about 55 countries have gathered in Zurich for the three-day “right to die” conference of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, which is held every two years. Euthanasia supporters will also honor the 30th anniversary of Zurich-based assisted suicide organization Exit. Assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since 1942, and is legal in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington.

HLI Switzerland is working with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition to host the alternative conference, whose theme is “Assisted Suicide Harms Human Dignity,” just steps away from the meeting of assisted suicide activists.

“We specifically want to target those who are dying and most susceptible to the ‘mercy killing’ propaganda to petition Congress to confront this issue and ask whether assisted suicide actually guarantees more human dignity,” said Keel.

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Zurich voters rejected proposed bans on assisted suicide and “suicide tourism” in 2010, and the government refused to impose new limits on assisted suicide last year.

“Together with the increasing cost pressure in the health sector and the increasing loneliness of older people, organized assistance for suicide is a breeding ground which promotes suicide,” said Roland Graf of HLI Switzerland. “The pressure is growing on people who can no longer give to society what is expected of them. They increasingly feel themselves as a burden for society and their relatives.”

According to government statistics released in March of this year, there were about 300 recorded cases of assisted suicide by residents of Switzerland in 2009. That number has increased continually since 1998.

“Assisted suicide is resorted to when life no longer appears worth living for the person concerned, in particular in the presence of a serious physical illness,” according to the report. “In 44% of cases, cancer was reported as the underlying disease, in 19% a neurodegenerative disease, in 9% cardiovascular diseases and in 6% musculoskeletal disorders. ‘Other diseases’ includes pain syndromes, multimorbidity and other pathologies. Depression was reported in 3% of cases and dementia in 0.3%.”

Ninety percent of those who sought assisted suicide in Switzerland were 55 years old or over, with the number of women resorting to assisted suicide markedly higher than that for men.

News reports reveal that the Swiss assisted suicide group Dignitas helped kill 1,169 non-Swiss nationals between 1998 and 2011, mostly Germans (664), followed by residents of Britain (182) and France (117) among others. Exit claims to only aide in the killing of Swiss residents.

“Advocates of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) describe it in sterile terms such as ‘self termination’ and ‘self deliverance,’ and even apparently laudable terms such as ‘an act of compassion and mercy,’ a ‘choice for freedom from suffering’ and ‘aid in dying.’ Behind this fabricated veil of credibility and compassion, they have won victories in the court of public opinion,” wrote HLI’s Arland K. Nichols in a recent article. “But behind that veil is a reality that cannot be hidden. Once suicide is considered a medical treatment, bureaucratic authorities tasked with keeping health care affordable can deem it the best course of ‘treatment’ for a patient.”

Nichols pointed to the case of Barbara Wagner in the United States, who was denied life-saving chemotherapy by the Oregon Health Plan, and instead offered suicide as a course of treatment.

Wagner told ABC News, “It was horrible. I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die. But we won’t give you the medication to live.”

“The problem with euthanasia or assisted suicide is you’re giving somebody else the right to be involved in causing your death,” stated Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. “Society needs to be vigilant about suffering, but the answer is not giving power over life and death to somebody else.”

Reprinted with permission from HLIWorldWatch.org.