Zurich rejects ban on assisted suicide, 'suicide tourism'
Zurich's voters have shot down bans on assisted suicide and on "suicide tourism."
May 17th, 2011
02:34 PM ET

Zurich rejects ban on assisted suicide, 'suicide tourism'

Zurich overwhelmingly supports a person's right to commit suicide, even if the person is a foreigner who travels to the Land of the Alps' largest city to get help dying.

So say the results of a recent ballot in which the Swiss were asked whether they approved of a ban on assisted suicide and on so-called suicide tourism, according to media reports.

Switzerland has allowed assisted suicide - so long as it's performed by a non-physician with no vested interest in the death - since 1941, but two recent phenomena have sparked debate over the issue, Reuters reported: There has been a spike in the number of foreigners committing suicide, and a recent study showed many people seeking assisted suicides are not terminally ill.

The news agency further reported that about 200 people a year take their lives in Zurich. The company Dignitas alone has helped 1,138 people die over the last 13 years, the Australian newspaper reported.

Many foreigners traveling there for assisted suicide hail from Germany, Britain and France. Euthanasia is legal only in Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Oregon is the only U.S. state that permits it, Reuters said.

Eighty-five percent of Zurich's voters shot down the proposed ban on assisted suicide, while 78 percent of ballots rejected outlawing suicide tourism, London's Metro newspaper reported. More than 278,000 votes were cast.

The Swiss Evangelical People's Party, which supported the bans, expressed disappointment with the outcome but said it was pleased the ballot initiative provoked debate.

"We now need to make sure that assisted suicide isn't just extended without limit and also that suicide tourism with foreigners is critically monitored," the group's statement said.

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Filed under: Switzerland • World
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Pat

    Attn CNN: Switzerland's capital is Bern, not Zurich. Maybe the first sentence needs a minor edit.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Gene

      The article states that Zurich is the largest city in, not the capital of, Switzerland.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mad Hatter

    Freedom of choice.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Paul Simon

    when you are loaded down with problems all your life, and if you are not happy at all. So, no need to live but to die and get rest from every thing. Death is a bliss

    May 18, 2011 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. ruthfassett

    ito respont to p.simon. if you had cancer would you not want toe live me im gratefull of each day god gives me. what a blessing.even with the cancer,ruth florida.

    June 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. D.O.E.S 銀魂

    I personally agree with "ruthfassett". Even if you have cancer, we should all be thankful in our lives, because we are all sinners and Jesus Christ died for us. We are all forgiven because God loves us. (this might be personal because I'm a christian) Although you don't believe this, we should all find something to be thankful about.

    January 8, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. Wandile

    I'm curious then, to know etwhher or not Dr. Rowland believes that a person should have liberty and control over their life and what to do with it. Equally important is the question of what one believes the goal, the aim of medicine to be. There are no correct answers to that question, I don't think, but I would be inclined to say that its aim is not to prolong life for as long as possible. Rather, the aim of medicine should be to help provide the best quality of life to the patient to the best of our ability without sacrificing their freedom of choice. We can persuade choices (and I believe that's an ever growing role for MD's), but we shouldn't deny them (assuming ability to give consent isn't an issue).Are our opinions differing based solely on the roles of professionals, or do they differ in morals? Or perhaps both?

    March 13, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
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