February 23, 2024

A novel Swiss solution for reputational damage over ‘death tourism’

The LifeCircle association in Switzerland is deeply unhappy about the country’s reputation for death tourism. People come from all over the world to take advantage of the liberal law on assisted suicide, even for non-residents.

Earlier this month LifeCircle held a demonstration in the Swiss capital, Bern, to promote its solution: legalization of assisted suicide everywhere in the world. In that way, there would be no need for sick people to travel vast distances to seek death.

Dr Erika Preisig, LifeCircle’s president, believes that even in Switzerland, there is too much paperwork surrounding assisted suicide. It should be just an everyday part of a doctor’s job, she says:

A lot must change in Switzerland. Assisted dying should be part of a doctor’s normal job, like giving antibiotics. Of course, you have to be careful prescribing antibiotics, just like you must be careful with surgery. You should also be careful with assisted dying. It’s the same thing. We don’t need a lot of organisations.        

In palliative care, I do injections of morphine or a terminal sedation. It’s a doctor’s work. Everybody trusts me. No police, no inspection. But when I support a patient in assisted dying, I have to process loads of paperwork and face a police inspection.  

Why haven’t other countries legalised assisted suicide? Dr Preisig highlights two reasons:

People always talk about the slippery slope this could lead to and potential abuse. But this has never happened in Switzerland, nor in Canada, where euthanasia is legal.       

The other big problem is religion. Our strongest enemies are the Catholics. They say that the Bible says you are not allowed to kill yourself: God has given you life and only God can take life.         

We doctors try to avoid death again and again. But maybe God would have liked to take this person to heaven earlier. A person gets cancer or dementia and has to die in a horrible way because we saved him or her so many times. Did God and the Bible really want this?

4 thoughts on “A novel Swiss solution for reputational damage over ‘death tourism’

  1. This Doctor is intelligent and well spoken. The real reason that opposition exists to assisted suicide is that (in America, at least) the government will pay for palliative care for an indefinite period of time. A sick person who remains on medication and home assistance is worth half a million dollars in billing. If there were no public financing of retirement, then hospitals would quickly change their stance. They don’t want charity cases.

    That’s why Medicare and Social Security should both be terminated. These two programs take money from poor young people, and give it to rich old people. That’s criminal. Without these programs, the government would be faced with millions of destitute elderly. Then Congress (if you want to call that collection of scofflaws “Congressmen”) would finally take corrective action by allowing people to receive assisted suicide. Many people say that death is not a financial issue, but it is. Payroll taxes should be eliminated.
    Unfortunately, Congress is just a collection of secretive, bribe-taking schemers. So it’s unlikely that they will take any meaningful action, because they aren’t good men.

  2. There are no parameters on her comments; end of life situations don’t occur in a vacuum, each situation is different. For a doctor to assume death is best is to play God. He takes us when He wants to take us, it is His province.

  3. I agree completely with Faye. It is horrific what torturous pain and the complete loss of dignity millions of people, overwhelmingly the elderly, are subjected to, especially in the United States. We show compassion to animals, beloved family pets, by putting them out of their misery yet we don’t show the same compassion to human animals.

  4. Probably most doctors in history have done what Dr. Preisig is recommending. When patients are suffering and there
    are no remaining, acceptable remedies, they have probably provided an assisted peaceful death. Now, that we can prolong dying almost indefinitely, ironically it has become harder to die. Great, for people who can afford to go to
    Switzerland, but it would be a great relief to most people to know that a trusted family doctor can simply provide what they need.

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