HANOVER, October 5, 2005 ( – A Swiss euthanasia provider, Dignitas, has expanded operations into Germany.

Responsible for the killing of 453 people since its launch by Ludwig Minelli in Zurich in 1998, the assisted-suicide group Dignitas has now expanded into Germany with an office in Hanover, in the hopes of advancing the euthanasia cause in that country.

“It’s about having a group here, that involves itself in the assisted-suicide debate,” Minelli said, while presiding over the inauguration of the new German office last week. “We want to give it a push.”

Although Germany has not technically authorized euthanasia, doctors who assist a patient’s request to kill themselves are not disciplined, according to a Deutsche Welle news report. In Switzerland, not only are doctors authorized to assist suicides, but anyone can do so with a doctor’s prescription. Dignitas charges $2,400 USD for the service.

The Lower Saxony Justice Minister was not keen on the Dignitas presence in her quarter, and opposes assisted-suicide in general. Elisabeth Hiester-Neumann said, “The organized promotion of suicide cannot be tolerated,” adding that the Dignitas headquarters will be watched by police.

German Association of Palliative Medicine Managing Director Thomas Schindler explained that suicide is not the way out of intractable pain and suffering. “Our experience tells us that good care makes the process of dying much more bearable,” Schindler said. “Premature death is irreversible, so we don’t support that, but neither do we extend suffering, and palliative medicine often provides adequate alleviation.”

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