Bill to be presented in March
Swiss suicide clinics are facing a crackdown. Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf says either the clinics will have to accept much tougher regulations or they will be closed down. A bill will come before parliament in March.
Under the new regulations, patients would have to present two medical opinions declaring their disease incurable; their death would have to be expected within months; and they have to be of sound mind and fully aware of their options. The federal government would take over regulation of assisted suicide from regional authorities, which is sure to be controversial with the cantons. The new law would also ban any attempt to charge fees for profiting from the deaths.
The two main right to die groups, Exit and Dignitas, oppose the proposals and may seek a referendum. They have accused the government of depriving citizens of their right to self-determination and responsibility. Ludwig Minelli, the founder of Dignitas, said that without the clinics, people would resort to desperate measures. “By cutting off assisted suicide for chronically or psychologically ill people who are capable of informed choice the Government will promote lonely suicides on train tracks.”
So many people from other countries have come to die in Switzerland, including more than 100 Britons, that it is being called “suicide tourism”. “At the root of the Swiss Government’s initiative is a fear that the cheerful Heidi-and-cowbells image is being tarnished by suicide tourists,” says the London Times. – London Times, Oct 29; SwissInfo, Oct 28
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