Cabinet seeks to crack down on suicide tourism

Groups offering assisted suicide, notably for people who travel to Switzerland to die, are facing tighter legal regulations.

This content was published on October 28, 2009 minutes

The cabinet on Wednesday presented two draft bills defining conditions for organised euthanasia, including medical confirmations of a terminally ill patient's death wish, the use of approved medicines and clear documentation of every case.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the purpose of the planned regulation was to slow down the process of assisted suicide and prevent people from travelling to Switzerland only for this specific purpose.

In 2007 there were around 400 cases of assisted death in Switzerland, including 132 people from Britain and Germany.

Assisted suicide and passive euthanasia are currently legal in Switzerland – a policy which makes it one of the most liberal European countries in this respect.

Widmer-Schlumpf said it was not up to the state to help people die.

"We believe suicide prevention and palliative care for patients are the priorities," Widmer-Schlumpf told a news conference.

She added that a regulation on assisted suicide remained a very delicate matter not only involving law but also ethics.

The government also published an alternative option that foresees an outright ban on organised assisted suicide.

Political parties and organisations have four months to give their opinion on the two proposals before cabinet prepares a final bill for discussion in parliament.

In an initial reaction, two leading right-to-die organisations have accused the government of trying to deprive citizens of their right to self-determination and responsibility.

Urs Geiser,

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