Switzerland: even more flexibility regarding conditions for accessing assisted suicide

Publié le : 30 May 2014

 The general meeting of the Swiss-German branch of the Swiss association, Exit, has voted in favour of extending medically assisted suicide to “subjects suffering from numerous age-related disorders“. With the greatest discretion, Exit ADMD, the Swiss-French branch of the organisation, voted in favour of this proposal on 26 April 2014. 

Up until now, “both associations have proposed assisted suicide for people suffering from an incurable disease or in the terminal stage of a disease“. Now they want to extend it to people who are not suffering from an incurable disease. According to them, this type of practice is justified by the ageing population. In concrete terms, any elderly subjects wishing to access assisted suicide can do so if they are suffering from several conditions, which may not be terminal, but which limit their life to a considerable extent. 

Interviewed on RTS, the president of the Swiss-French branch of Exit, Jérôme Sobel, commented as follows: “A doctor may think that this is a bad idea. But if the person is capable of discerning, he/she has the right to choose when and how to die“. He added that multiple diseases may, for instance, affect “an elderly subject who is very deaf and also going blind“, without defining the term “elderly” –  a term that would depend on the individual, explained the President of the organisation, Saskia Frei. 

Lematin.ch, which disclosed the information, stated that if “this reinforcement of the right to self-determination is legal“, it “exceeds the recommendations of the Académie suisse des sciences médicales (ASSM) (Swiss Academy for Medical Sciences)”

Reacting to this announcement, Professor Christian Kind, President of the ASSM Ethics Committee commented as follows: “This is a new extension to Exit’s scope of activities. The latter have already been extended to patients suffering from incurable diseases but not diseases that are immediately life-threatening. These activities are now also extended to people who do not have incurable diseases”. He fears “psychological and social pressures for elderly people on the one hand and for doctors to assist suicides on the other hand“. 

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