Monday, July 9, 2012

Zurich prosecutor admits that assisted suicide needs regulations in Switzerland

An article written by Clare O'Dea and published today in Swissinfo.ch reports that the two main assisted suicide groups in Switzerland, Dignitas and Exit were responsible for 560 assisted suicide deaths in 2011.

The article stated that Andreas Weber, a palliative care doctor in Switzerland who supports assisted suicide, stated at the World Federation of Right to Die Societies conference in Zurich that the two main reasons people die by assisted suicide are:
“fear of suffering and not wanting to be a burden on relatives or go into a care home. For a smaller group it’s a case of just not wanting to go on like this,”

“By dealing with the two main fears, we find the suicide wish fades away.” 
The story then stated:
What Weber’s palliative service in Zurich can offer is a promise of adequate pain relief to the end or the option of sedation in the case of breathing difficulties. The service also includes 24-hour support at home for the dying.
Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga stated:
“Assisted suicide is one possibility but palliative medicine offers other choices for people at the end of life. The decision about suicide should be made with the knowledge of these other possibilities,”
At the same time the article quoted a General Practitioner attending the Right to Die Societies conference as stating:
she and her colleagues were ill-equipped to deal with the dying and called for compulsory training in palliative care.
Zurich prosecutor Andreas Brunner told Swissinfo that legislation is required because there are no regulations for assisted suicide assistants. He stated:
“At first the argument was that it [assisted suicide] was intended for the terminally ill, then it was broadened to include the very ill facing extreme suffering,”

“Then the idea was that it should be open to the elderly who were suffering the effects of old age or a combination of illnesses, and finally it’s open to healthy people,”
Switzerland’s assisted suicide organisations are left to their own devices legally.
He then concluded his statement by saying:
 “The organisations are not required to be run on a not-for-profit basis and are not subject to accounting obligations. Neither are they required to keep comprehensive records of their cases.”

“I’m not saying the organisations are not already doing these things but it should be laid down in law,”
Alex Schadenberg in Switzerland
The article then quoted me as stating that:
Alex Schadenberg sees an inherent problem with organised suicide assistance.

“The trouble with these organisations is that they are directly and intentionally involved in the death of other people, they are providing the means and perhaps also counselling. There’s a distance that’s been lost in the protection of people,”
EPC co-organized a counter-conference in Zurich Switzerland at the same time as the World Federation of Right to Die Societies Conference.

The fact is that Brunner is correct. The assisted suicide groups have had free reign in Switzerland. They have continuously expanded the criteria for assisted suicide and the number of people who are dying by assisted suicide is also increasing. Exit, the largest assisted suicide group in Switzerland, has set-up in the nursing homes and yet the care of the dying through effective palliative care is not available for most Swiss citizens.

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