Sunday, May 15, 2011

Agencies in Zurich: Swiss voters reject ban on assisted suicide for foreigners 15 May

 Early projections in Zurich referendums show 80% are against proposals to outlaw 'suicide tourism'.

                                                                                                    Photograph: Jon Arnold/JAI/Corbis
Zurich, where referendums look likely to allow assisted suicide for foreigners to continue.

 Voters in Zurich have rejected proposed bans on assisted suicide and "suicide tourism" in which foreigners travel to Switzerland to receive help in ending their lives.
 Out of more than 278,000 ballots cast in the referendum, the initiative to ban assisted suicide was rejected by 85% of voters and the initiative to outlaw it for foreigners was turned down by 78%, according to Zurich authorities. About 200 assisted suicides are carried out each year in premises in Zurich rented by the assisted death group Dignitas.
 Assisted suicide has been allowed in Switzerland since 1941 if performed by a non-physician who has no vested interest in the death. Euthanasia, or "mercy killing", is legal only in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and the US state of Oregon.
 Many terminally ill foreigners – particularly from Germany, France and Britain – travel to Switzerland to kill themselves, taking advantage of rules on suicide which are among the world's most liberal. But a rise in foreigners seeking to end their lives in Switzerland, and a study showing more and more people who seek assisted suicides there do not suffer from a terminal illness, have provoked heated debate.
 The Swiss government has said it is looking to change the law to make sure it is used only as a last resort by the terminally ill and to limit "suicide tourism''.
 Right-to-die group Exit has agreed rules to govern assisted suicide with prosecutors in Zurich in the hope they may eventually form the basis of national regulation.
 Foreigners are not explicitly excluded under the new rules, but a Swiss doctor who prescribes the deadly anaesthetic must have met the person twice over a period of time to be sure of their wishes.


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