Swiss Politicians Battle 'Suicide Tourism'

As Britain eases rules, Switzerland fears rush of ill bent on killing themselves
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2009 5:10 AM CDT
Swiss Politicians Battle 'Suicide Tourism'
British conductor Edward Downes and his wife, Joan, celebrate the birth of their son in 1967. The couple died in July at a Zurich assisted suicide clinic run by the group Dignitas.   (AP Photo/PA, file)

Swiss politicians have stepped up efforts to battle "suicide tourism" as British officials prepare to announce new rules expected to make it easier for citizens to cross borders to die, reports the Independent. Some 115 Britons have died at assisted suicide operations run by Dignitas in Switzerland. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland under certain conditions. Several doctors, however, question how rigorous the screening process is for Dignitas patients.

A new Swiss initiative proposes banning assisted suicides, while another would require that only Swiss residents be allowed to commit suicide. Dignitas is currently the only Swiss assisted suicide operation that allows foreigners. British officials are expected to make clear in new guidelines Wednesday that relatives helping those committing suicide abroad will not be prosecuted. The move follows a court victory by a multiple sclerosis sufferer seeking protection for her husband in the event of her suicide. Assisted suicide remains illegal in Britain.
(More assisted suicide stories.)

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