Swiss Govt to consider ban on assisted suicide

The Swiss Government is considering a new proposal to ban assisted suicide facilities in Switzerland.

The new proposal would tighten restrictions on who could access assisted suicide, potentially limiting it to those who are close to death.

If passed it could spell the end for so-called ‘suicide tourism’ to Swiss facilities such as Dignitas, which has come under increasing fire in recent weeks over allegations of suspicious deaths.

The current law in Switzerland allows terminally ill patients to choose to kill themselves with the help of organisations like Dignitas.

But the Government is now considering “legal barriers and a ban on organised suicide assistance.”

Wesley Smith, a bioethicist, said: “Apparently certain elements of the Swiss Government are sick and tired of the travesty of suicide tourism”.

He added: “I wish the Swiss would outlaw assisted suicide altogether, but stopping the organisations that prey on the weak, vulnerable, and despairing would be a good step in the right direction.”

It was revealed earlier this week that several of the 115 Britons who have so far committed suicide at the Dignitas facility in Switzerland were suffering from “treatable” conditions.

Dignitas are reportedly under investigation after helping a physically healthy man, who suffered from depression, to kill himself.

The organisation’s founder, Ludwig Minelli, has been accused by a former nurse at the facility of profiting from patients’ deaths.

In the coming weeks Peers in the House of Lords are expected to debate proposals to weaken the existing UK law against assisted suicide by preventing the prosecution of those who help friends and relatives travel to suicide facilities such as Dignitas.

Earlier this month Dr Peter Saunders of the Care Not Killing alliance in a letter to The Times, questioned whether the new proposal will allow people to help their “loved ones” travel to “a clinic” for assistance in dying.

He warned that the Dignitas ‘clinic’ in Switzerland is “no clinic at all”.

Mr Saunders said: “It is an apartment in which visitors are handed poison to drink — nothing more, nothing less.”

He adds: “It is dangerously naive to suppose that people who are helped to commit suicide are always ‘loved ones’.

“At the moment, with the Crown Prosecution Service able to review cases after the event, there is a deterrent that makes people with sinister motives stop and think before pressuring inconvenient relatives into removing themselves in this way.”

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