Switzerland votes against euthanasia restrictions

15th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Voters in the Swiss region of Zurich, which has become known as a hub for "death tourism", voted Sunday against plans to restrict assisted suicide to local residents.

The motion brought by the conservative Federal Democratic Union party sought to impose a one-year residence requirement in the Zurich canton for those who resort to legally sanctioned assisted suicide.

A locally based association, Dignitas, has gained notoriety over the past decade by offering more than 1,000 foreigners, mainly terminally ill people, the opportunity to take advantage of relatively permissive Swiss laws.

The motion was rejected by 218,602 votes to 60,186 or 78.4 percent.

A second motion calling for a national ban on assisted suicide was also rejected by 234,956 votes against 43.165 or 84.5 percent.

"The right to die is a private matter that does not concern the state and the Church even less so," vice president of the assisted suicide association Exit, Berhard Sutter, told AFP.

"It's a clear sign from Zurich and corresponds with Switzerland's humanitarian tradition of coming to the aid of others," he said.

In Switzerland a person may be given "passive" assistance to suicide, such as being supplied with a lethal dose of a drug, provided it is not done for selfish motives or for gain.

Active assistance, including helping the person to take the drug or administering it, is forbidden.

© 2011 AFP

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