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Swiss Voters: Foreigners Welcome To Come And Die In Switzerland

Swiss overwhelmingly approve "suicide tourism"

May 15, 2011

Britons will still be allowed to opt for assisted suicide in Switzerland after people in the country voted in favour of leaving it open to foreigners.

It is feared that the overwhelming public support of the Swiss for so-called 'suicide tourism' and clinics like Dignitas which offer it, could strengthen the right-to-die campaign in the UK.

The conservative Federal Democratic Union party in Switzerland wanted to restrict who could travel to the country to end their lives.

The results of a referendum on the issue showed that just 20 per cent supported a ban on foreigners.

Some 164 Britons are among those who have travelled to Switzerland to die.
The result was a shock for the party which believed it had a 'real chance' of putting an end to the practice.

A spokesman for the party said: 'The people have spoken and it wasn’t for us.'

The motion sought to impose a one-year residency requirement for those who legally wanted to end their lives in Switzerland.

A second option on the ballot paper - to ban assisted suicides altogether - was heavily defeated with only 13 per cent agreeing with the proposal.

Over the past decade, more than 1,000 foreigners, mainly terminally ill people, have taken their lives at the Dignitas clinic near Zurich.

For several thousand pounds, the group offers a 'dying room' for the terminally ill to drink a lethal barbiturate-laced cocktail.

The group has been accused by critics and former staff members of being a money-making organisation that actively promotes a 'culture of death'.

Its founder Ludwig Minnelli - who has become a multi-millionaire through his business - recently said that he wanted people who were depressed to be able to end their lives with the help of his organisation.

Dignitas has received unwelcome attention for its methods.

It was forced to move out of a residential block of flats four years ago when homeowners complained of having to share a single lift with corpses in body bags.

A hotel manager threatened Minnelli with legal action when a man committed suicide with drugs provided by him in a room he had booked.

Two German men were also discovered dead in a van in a rural lay-by after being helped by Dignitas.

Minnelli has also angered local authorities after dumping ashes in the pristine waters of Lake Zurich.

The company says it accompanies people who are terminally ill or suffer from an 'unendurable disability' to a dignified and painless end, in cooperation with doctors who draw up the prescription needed to buy the cocktail of drugs needed to do it.

Another Swiss group Exit also offers assisted suicide but has refused to help foreign visitors.

The decision by Swiss voters means Britons will be able to continue travelling to Switzerland to kill themselves.

It is a clear sign to the Swiss government that the majority of people are in favour of the practice.

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 U.S. state of Oregon.

One political source said: 'This is the clearest signal yet that the Swiss are not ashamed of ''suicide tourism'' but actively encourage it.

'It will be hard to see how it can be regulated in the future by governments given such enthusiastic support.'

Swiss overwhelmingly approve "suicide tourism"
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