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Geneva votes to keep assisted suicide in care homes and hospitals

a symbolic image of the setting for an assisted suicide in a room with a bed and window. On the table in the foreground is a candle, a glass of water, and a jar of the drug which would be used.
The euthanasia organisation Exit Suisse Romande feared a rolling back of freedom of access to assisted suicide. Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Geneva will continue to guarantee the option of assisted suicide in nursing homes and care institutions. On Sunday, 76.56% of voters rejected an amendment to health legislation which challenged this possibility.

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The amendment had been the subject of a referendum. The euthanasia organisation Exit Suisse Romande in French-speaking Switzerland was initially shocked by the “hasty” decision by the right-wing majority in the cantonal parliament. The association feared a rolling back of freedom of access to assisted suicide.

Originally, parliamentarians were supposed to vote only on the abolition of a supervisory commission for assisted suicide, which was deemed unnecessary due to a lack of decision-making powers. However, during debates in parliament and amid certain confusion, another article that obliged care homes and hospitals to guarantee assisted suicide was also scrapped.

+ Acceptance for assisted suicide spreads in Europe

The right-wing majority in Geneva’s parliament had taken the position that there was no problem in the canton and that the provision was therefore superfluous. This was wrong, according to Exit Suisse romande, which immediately saw a loophole, particularly for cases involving residents of private establishments.

A shift to the right

The outcome of Sunday’s vote left little doubt. In the end, virtually all the parties called for this revision of health legislation to be rejected. The left had always argued that the revision risked rolling back freedom of access to assisted suicide.

+ Palliative care: is Switzerland a good place for the terminally ill?

In hindsight, it appears the right-wing parties called for a “no” vote in order to maintain the status quo. The right-wing Swiss People’s Party left the vote open, and only the Geneva Citizens’ Movement (MCG) supported the legislation.

The Geneva cantonal government had proposed deleting the article related to the supervisory commission. The cantonal health minister, Pierre Maudet, reiterated on Sunday that he would present a new bill on this non-controversial point, in the hope that the parliament would vote in favour of it. The voter turnout on Sunday was 46.09%.

Adapted from German by DeepL/dkk/sb

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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