News - August 28, 2014

Meanwhile in Switzerland

Nicolette Meerstadt

In the news: Because many countries have strict rules on euthanasia, terminally ill Europeans often travel to Switzerland to bring an end to their lives, as a study published this month makes clear. There is a degree of flexibility in the Alpine country’s legislation that these foreign visitors, who are generally very ill, gratefully exploit.

Commentary by Nora Neidhart, just starting her Master’s in Food Technology.

‘‘In Switzerland we have societies that help incurably ill people with their final wish, to die in a dignified manner. Active assistance is not allowed, but you are allowed to give patients a fatal dose of medicine that they administer themselves. 

That is on condition that they are terminally ill.  It’s not an easy procedure, you don’t just get given the help. But there’s no clear legal basis for this problem. The government is still working on that. 

Personally I think everyone should be free to choose how to end their life, and most of my friends are of the same opinion. There are some problems concerning the apartment blocks where the process actually takes place. The neighbours complain about it. But to be honest, I think they shouldn’t interfere, it’s none of their business.  

There was a lot of talk about the subject when we had to vote in Zurich on whether we should stop ‘suicide tourism’. Almost 80 percent voted in favour of keeping the current system. But apart from that, people hardly ever talk about it. It’s in the news now because a study was carried out giving definite numbers. 

Of course not everyone agrees with this. There are big differences within Switzerland. The rural areas are generally conservative while the cities and French-speaking area are much more liberal. They are very much in the majority but I still think it would be good if the government finally came up with clear-cut rules.’