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Tuesday, 8 May 2007

More Britons are going to Zurich to end their lives when life has become intolerable for them.

The right to choose death - Independent

This is a long article and well worth reading in its entirety.


"The number of terminally ill people travelling from Britain to end their lives in a Swiss assisted suicide clinic has doubled in the past year.

In protest at what they see as Britain's outdated euthanasia laws, patients from the UK are flocking to the Dignitas clinic in Zurich where they are promised a dignified death.

Latest figures show 34 people have made the journey since January 2006 compared with an average of 14 a year between January 2003 and January 2006. In all, 76 Britons have been helped to take their own lives by drinking a mixture of barbiturates prepared by doctors at the clinic.

The trend will give added impetus to the campaign to change the law in Britain to give terminally ill patients the right to choose how and when they end their lives. Surveys show four out of five people in the UK would support a form of assisted suicide similar to that offered at the Dignitas clinic, but three attempts to change the law since 2003 have failed.

Dignitas was set up in 1998 by Ludwig Minelli, a Swiss human rights lawyer, to help people "live and die with dignity". The first known British patient to visit the clinic was Reginald Crew, a 74-year-old former car worker from Liverpool with motor neurone disease, who ended his life there in January in 2003. One unnamed Briton had gone there to die earlier. In Britain the penalty for assisting a suicide is up to 14 years in prison. Many relatives and friends who have travelled with terminally ill patients to Zurich have lived in fear of prosecution afterwards.

Rosie Brocklehurst, of Dignity in Dying, formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, which campaigns for a change to the law in the UK, said: "It is appalling that the current law in the UK means that terminally ill British people who want to end their lives are being forced to travel to a strange country to do so. Their lives are being ended more prematurely than would otherwise be necessary because they have to be able to travel.""

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