Friday, October 24, 2008

Assisted suicide and "death tourism"

The Times of London follows the Swiss suicide ‘clinic’ Dignitas

"The Crown Prosecution Service is deciding whether to press charges against the parents of Daniel James after it learnt that they had accompanied him to Dignitas, where he ended his life last month. The case has provoked sympathy and condemnation in almost equal measure because, unlike most previous cases, Mr James was not terminally ill. ..."

"Switzerland allows assisted suicide by a nondoctor provided that it is not done for profit. That is the most liberal ruling in Europe and its principles were set out as early as 1918: “In modern penal law suicide is not a crime . . . aiding and abetting suicide can themselves be inspired by altruistic motives.”Even critics of Dignitas such as Andreas Brunner, the state prosecutor in Zurich, accept the principle. “But there should be tighter controls, regulating the quality of the help offered,” Mr Brunner argued. “And more transparency when it comes to individual cases, to finances and to the organisation itself.”The real concern is not the practice of helping people to die – one Swiss organisation, Exit, has helped more than 700 Swiss citizens and has escaped most political criticism – but the tarnished image that comes with being seen as the suicide capital of Europe. Opponents call it “death tourism”."

An accompanying story explains Why I prescribe drugs for suicide, by Dignitas doctor