Swiss canton to get first assisted suicide law

The French-speaking Swiss canton of Vaud will become the first canton to introduce a law which explicitly allows assisted suicide. Last week, 62% of voters supported a proposal which would oblige hospitals and nursing homes to carry out the wishes of a person who has requested assistance in dying. The person must be suffering from an incurable illness and be of sound mind. It will be up to the head nurse of a nursing home or a chief physician of a hospital to decided whether patients meet the criteria. The proposal was supported by Vaud doctors and nursing homes.

A failed counter-proposal by assisted suicide organisation Exit would have guaranteed people in care facilities an unconditional right to die. Exit argued that “If the law imposes an evaluation of the suicide request by a medical team from the establishment, it is an inacceptable breach of individual liberty and a form of institutional paternalism.”

Karim Boubaker, head of Vaud’s public health services, opposes Exit’s demand to change the responsibilities of nursing homes. “The law clearly explains that these are health establishments which have beds intended for people needing care. They are not private residences with their own rules,” he said. Nicholas Crognaletti, who represented a group of homes which campaigned against the Exit initiative, said: “The community versus private dimension of these establishments is a real dilemma. Significant collateral damage created by assisted suicide within such residences is a real problem”.

According to Exit, the situation is different in the German-speaking cantons. There, it told SwissInfo, 50% of nursing homes allow assisted suicide under their roofs, up from 20% only five years ago. ~, Jun 17

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | assisted suicide, Switzerland

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