UK group hails Swiss assisted suicide vote

Drugs (generic)
Image caption Suicide assistance can be provided only in a passive way, such as by providing drugs

Campaign group Dignity in Dying says Swiss voters have made a "brave decision" in rejecting calls to ban assisted suicide for non-residents.

But anti-euthanasia alliance Care not Killing said it was disappointed after 78% voted against outlawing it.

Residents in Zurich were asked to decide whether assisted suicide should be banned, either for Swiss nationals or non-residents.

So far, 150 Britons have chosen to die at the Dignitas clinic in the country.

Some 85% of the 278,000 votes cast opposed the ban on assisted suicide and 78% opposed outlawing it for foreigners, Zurich authorities said.

While opinion polls indicated that most Swiss were in favour of assisted suicide, they had also suggested that many were against what has become known as suicide tourism.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: "With the present lack of a safeguarded alternative at home, this result will come as a relief to many people in Britain who want the choice of an assisted death, should they find themselves suffering at the end of life.

"The people of Zurich have taken a brave decision, and in doing so they have refused to turn their backs on dying Britons who want the choice to end their suffering - nor should we."

She said the organisation wanted to see assisted dying legalised in the UK for competent adults under strict safeguards.

Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of Care not Killing, representing over 40 organisations, said: "We are disappointed that voters in Zurich appear to have followed the call of the two major political parties to support the status quo in today's referendum on assisted suicide after an earlier poll showed that two thirds of Swiss people were concerned about suicide tourism.

"However, we are pleased that the Swiss government is still planning to revise the country's federal laws on assisted suicide next year."

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