Switzerland Refuses to Alter Assisted Suicide Law to Nix Death Tourism
By Hilary White
ZURICH, June 2, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Swiss Cabinet sees no need to tighten restrictions on assisted suicide, despite the fact that the country has become a favourite destination for “death tourism”, and that Switzerland’s leading euthanasia doctor has pledged to open a chain of for-profit killing facilities.
Swiss Justice Minister Christoph Blocher announced Wednesday, that “the cabinet had come to the conclusion that [new legislation] was not necessary.”
Switzerland’s legal situation is similar to that of the Netherlands, before the laws were liberalized. Switzerland officially prohibits euthanasia but looks the other way on assisted suicide. After growing numbers of abuses at the private Dignitas assisted suicide facility in Zurich, Parliament had called on the government to re-examine the law.
The Cabinet responded that the existing guidelines by the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences were sufficient. Cabinet spokesman, Christoph Blocher, said there were also no plans to examine or monitor Dignitas or other euthanasia groups, that to do so would create too much “bureaucracy” and lend such groups legitimacy.
Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition told LifeSiteNews.com, “The Swiss have a serious problem and it is not going to just go away.”
“They have created worldwide suicide tourism. Studies have shown that the majority of deaths at the Dignitas clinic are suicide tourists. People have gone there to be killed from all over Europe: from Germany, France, England and even Canada.”
The issue has been pressing in Switzerland for some time. In 2003, Beatrice Wertli, of the Swiss Christian democrats, told the BBC she was worried about the reputation it is giving her country: “We do not want Switzerland to be a destination for tourism for suicide.”
Swissinfo news service reports that all the parties in the Swiss government, except that which controls the Cabinet, are in favour of a re-examination of the law.
Last year Dignitas killed a woman who was not terminally ill, whoÂhad simply falsified her medical records to show a terminal illness in order to ‘qualify’ for euthanasia. The Swiss Public Prosecutor confirmed that the doctors at Dignitas, one of whom committed suicide, were under investigation over the incident.
Dignitas’ founder, Ludwig Minelli, said at the time, “Every person in Europe has the right to choose to die, even if they are not terminally ill.” By the time of the incident, November 2005, Dignitas had killed 453 people since its launch by Minelli in Zurich in 1998.
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Euthanasia Doctor Commits Suicide after Finding Patient He Killed Was Not Terminally Ill
Swiss Lure Suicide Victims: Euthanasia Administered Within 24 Hours