Monday, May 16, 2011

Swiss reject assisted suicide restrictions

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Yesterday, the voters in Zurich rejected two initiatives to restrict assisted suicide. Many people are viewing these results as support for the concept of assisted suicide, but after reading many articles and commentaries on the voter initiative I think it is very clear that the people of Zurich were fed a false premise that was not effectively countered.

The supporters of assisted suicide claim that assisted suicide is a type of freedom. They suggest that assisted suicide relates to autonomy and personal choice. Therefore, it is implied, that opposition to assisted suicide is a denial of freedom, autonomy and personal choice.

In reality, legalizing assisted suicide gives another person the right to cause the suicide death of another person. Legalizing assisted suicide eliminates the societal protection for people with disabilities, the frail elderly and those with chronic conditions. It is not about granting freedom, but rather exposing the most vulnerable in society to pressure, even if only subtle to die by an imposed death.

The greater question is why did the person seek suicide?

In Canada the laws that protect people from assisted suicide are designed to help vulnerable people. The law states that a person must not aid, abet or counsel suicide. But when we consider why people consider suicide and the vulnerable position of that person, one realizes how the current law needs to be upheld as a protection for all Canadians especially when they are experiencing the most vulnerable time of their life.

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