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Controversial euthanasia policies to be reviewed

Cabinet is set to clarify whether the rules for Switzerland's assisted suicide organisations need to be updated.

In particular, it will look at issues relating to the care, counselling and documentation that euthanasia groups provide people seeking to end their lives. It will also discuss whether groups should be permitted to help healthy people kill themselves.

On Wednesday, cabinet instructed the justice ministry and the Federal Police to prepare a report on the controversial issue by early 2009.

The relatively new practice of providing people with easily available helium to end their own lives rather than prescription sodium pentobarbital has raised questions over the likelihood of abuse.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf had earmarked the issue for discussion in April after celebrating 100 days in office.

The organisation Dignities, Switzerland’s leading enabler of assisted suicide, said it welcomed cabinet’s move.

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