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article imageZurich voters reject assisted suicide bans

By Lynn Curwin     May 15, 2011 in World
Swiss voters have rejected proposed bans on assisted suicide, both for residents of Switzerland and for foreign visitors.
More than 278,000 ballots were cast in the referendum, with 85 per cent opposed to banning assisted suicide, and 78 per cent against banning it for foreigners.
The Guardian reported that about 200 people commit assisted suicide in Zurich each year.
It has been legal Switzerland since 1941 if performed by someone who is not a doctor and has no vested interest in the death, but assistance is to only take a passive form, such as providing drugs.
Residents of other countries, where they are unable to get the help they are seeking, sometimes go to Switzerland to get assistance with dying. The BBC reported that Dignitas said it has helped more than 1,000 foreigners end their lives.
A proposal that people wold have to live in the Zurich area for at least one year before qualifying for assistance with dying was rejected in the referendum.
The Swiss Evangelical People's Party said it regretted the outcome of the vote but was pleased it had prompted discussion.
"We now need to make sure that assisted suicide isn't just extended without limit and also that suicide tourism with foreigners is critically monitored," Reuters quoted the group as saying in a statement.
Imogen Foulkes, a BBC correspondent in Switzerland, said the number of those who voted against a ban reflects the widely held belief in that country that an individual has the right to decide when and how to die.
More about Suicide, Assisted suicide, Switzerland, Zurich
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