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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Switzerland to confront 'suicide tourism'

The Swiss government’s outline of the details of proposals to ban or severely restrict assisted suicide as part of plants to tackle “suicide tourism” falls back to the Euthanasia debate. In Switzerland euthanasia is illegal; however, physicians assisting suicide has been made legal since 1918. Switzerland has an unusual position regarding assisted suicide. Even non-physicians can perform it. Essentially, even though euthanasia is illegal, it is legally condoned.

The Swiss are currently looking at two draft proposals on assisted suicide. As part of the proposals, patients would have to provide two separate medical opinions proving that they have a terminal illness and are expected only to have months to live. Those who are chronically or mentally ill would find it more difficult to get help in ending their lives. Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumf contends that organizations involved in assisted suicide were “testing the boundaries of the law” and that death by this method should not become a “profit-driven business”. In a statement, the justice ministry said that “suicide must only be a last resort” and that it was committed to protecting human life. Her argument may be regarded in view of those ‘Against’ euthanasia; opponents typically raise the point that euthanasia will lead to its misuse. ‘Opponents’, on the other hand, would argue that the decision of the patients should be accepted, as it is their right to decide. 

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