Human Rights

Swiss Parliament Votes against Regulating Assisted Suicide Groups

For some reason, only the death-dealing occupations skate by with no regulations.

Switzerland has allowed assisted suicide since the 1940s. Originally, assisted suicide was reserved only for the terminally ill. But over the years, the restrictions have been loosened more and more, until in 2006, the Swiss Federal Court ruled that anyone could decide to kill him- or herself through assisted suicide at any time, for any reason. Now, the Swiss Parliament has turned down a proposal which would require assisted suicide groups to be regulated.

The argument against regulation is that the lack of it protected individual freedoms. But does it protect those who perhaps don’t actually want to die? The Netherlands is a perfect example of not only why such regulation is needed, but also why assisted suicide is dangerous and should be outlawed. Thousands of patients in the Netherlands have been killed without their consent, and even the ones who give their consent sometimes do so only because of pressure from their families.

Currently, there is zero legislation for Swiss assisted suicide clinics. Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, pointed out that there have been allegations of abuse and fraud, as well as a lack of concern for vulnerable people, raised about the assisted suicide clinic Dignitas. (Dignitas is the only clinic which allows foreign tourists to kill themselves.) And for Dignitas, assisted suicide is a multi-million-dollar business.

Speaking on the lack of regulations in Swiss assisted suicide clinics, Zurich prosecutor Andreas Brunner pointed out how the target group for assisted suicide has been broadened more and more over the years, but there still remains absolutely no regulation or oversight towards the clinics.

“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,” he said.

“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,” Brunner added.

Switzerland’s assisted suicide organisations are left to their own devices legally, according to Brunner.

The prosecutor called for legislation in the area, pointing out that there were no regulations for the selection, training or monitoring of suicide assistants.

“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.”

It’s shocking that the Swiss parliament doesn’t see the danger in allowing assisted suicide clinics to operated unfettered by any kind of regulation whatsoever. Sure, the “rules” say that people have to make their own decision to die. But with no regulation, who’s to say that the clinics are abiding by those rules? What’s to protect someone who is being bullied into killing himself by a family member? And with assisted suicide clinics now allowed to operate in retirement homes as well, there’s even more of a possibility of abuse and death without consent. And this is exactly why regulations and oversight are needed.

It’s strange, how those who operate in the business of death – abortion, assisted suicide – both shirk any kind of regulations whatsoever. Any other medical professional, of any kind, is subjected to stringent standards and regulations to protect patients. Why do those who peddle death get to do so without the same regulations?

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