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Private Members Bills to prevent Swiss “Suicide Tourism”

The growing notoriety of Dignitas’ work has prompted members of the Swiss parliament to introduce two Private Member’s Bills to prevent “suicide tourism” to Switzerland. These Bills also threaten the availability of assisted suicide for Swiss citizens.

Under Article 115 of the Penal Code, assisted suicide is not a criminal act in Switzerland provided it is not motivated by selfish interests. Exit ADMD Suisse Romande and Exit Vereinigung Für Humanes Sterben Deutsche Schweiz only assist the suicides of Swiss citizens, who are members of these organisations. But Dignitas has built a reputation for helping foreign members to take advantage of Swiss law, and consequently the number of foreigners travelling to Zurich for an assisted suicide grew from 3 in 2000 to 55 last year

National Councillor Dorle Vallender PRD (AR), whose earlier initiative against EXIT was rejected by Parliament in December 2001, has made proposition (02.3500) “Assisted suicide and suicide tourism”. A second attack has been launched by National Councillor Alexander Baumann UDC (TG) whose motion (02.3623) “to prohibit suicide tourism in Switzerland.” would legally prevent all Swiss-based Right to Die groups from acting on behalf of those who seek assisted suicide.

These motions have been co-signed by several francophone members of Parliament. It is anticipated that the motions would take eighteen months to proceed through Parliament before they were passed.

During this year’s upcoming electoral campaign Exit ADMD Suisse Romande intend to ask the motions’ signatories to explain their actions. If Article 115 of the Penal Code is changed, they will pursue a referendum on this issue.