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Voters in Zurich reject proposed ban on ‘suicide tourism’

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-15

Voters in Zurich rejected Sunday proposals to ban assisted suicide and "suicide tourism" - whereby foreigners travel to Switzerland to commit suicide. Forecasts show 80 percent of voters did not support the initiatives.

REUTERS - Voters in the Swiss city of Zurich rejected on Sunday proposed bans on assisted suicide and “suicide tourism”, or foreigners travelling to Switzerland to receive help ending their lives.

Early projections showed voters had rejected both initiatives in local referendums by about 80 percent, Swiss news agency SDA reported. About 200 people commit assisted suicide each year in Zurich.

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.

Many terminally ill foreigners—particularly from Germany, France and Britain—travel to Switzerland to commit suicide, taking advantage of the Swiss rules which are among the world’s most liberal on suicide.

But a rise in the number of foreigners seeking to end their lives in Switzerland, and a study showing that more and more people seeking assisted suicides in the country do not suffer from a terminal illness, have provoked heated debate.

The Swiss government has said it is looking to change the law on assisted suicide to make sure it was 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 might 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.

Date created : 2011-05-15