Switzerland assisted suicides jump 34% in 2015

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Swissinfo reported that there were 782 assisted suicide deaths at the Exit suicide clinic in 2015 up from 583 assisted suicide deaths in 2014. In 2014, the total number of assisted suicide deaths in Switzerland, including deaths at Dignitas and the Eternal Spirit clinic, was around 836. 

The data indicates that there was a 34% increase in assisted suicide deaths in 2015. Combined with the 27% increase in assisted suicide deaths in 2014, deaths at the suicide clinic have increased by more than 70% in two years.

The article indicated that more women than men are dying by assisted suicide:

Of the deceased, 55% were women and 45% men, 
The average age of each person at the time of death was 77.4. The patients lived mainly in the cantons of Zurich, Bern, Aargau, St Gallen, Basel City and Basel Country

In May, 2014, a Swiss suicide clinic extended assisted suicide to healthy elderly people who are living with physical or psychological pain. This decision has led to an increase in deaths.

In August 2015 a healthy depressed British woman died by assisted suicide in Switzerland.

In February 2014, Oriella Cazzanello, an 85 year-old healthy woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic. The letter she sent her family stated that she was unhappy about how she looked.

In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria Italy, died by assisted suicide at a suicide clinic in Basel Switzerland. His autopsy showed that he had a wrong diagnosis.

A 2014 Swiss study found that people who died at Swiss suicide clinics had no underlying illness in 16% of the cases.

In response to the increased assisted suicide deaths at the Swiss suicide clinics, the German Bundestag voted in November 2015 to prohibit the commercialization of assisted suicide.

Germany officially opens the door to assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The German Bundestag has approved assisted suicide for altruistic reasons. The law is similar to the Swiss law except that it prohibits the commercialization of assisted suicide.

The fact is that the Swiss law permits assisted suicide for altruistic reasons, but the groups that facilitate assisted suicide actually developed over time, rather than the law simply permitting it. Now that Germany officially permits assisted suicide, the question is how will it develop over time. The German RT news reported:

MPs in Germany have rejected a bill that would have made commercial assisted suicides legal, instead passing a new law punishing such practices with up to three years imprisonment, even if doctors perform the procedure to relieve suffering. 
The bill, which was upheld with 360 out of 602 votes, criminalizes organizations that assist patients in terminating their own lives for profit. It is meant to prevent the commercialization of the procedure as a “suicide business.” 
However, single instances of suicide assistance – by a doctor or relative – do not contradict the new law.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is concerned that now that the door is officially opened to assisted suicide, how long will it take for the courts or future parliaments to expand the law?

Germany has not legalized euthanasia.

Germany's Jewish community opposes assisted suicide, while the nation debates the issue

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The German Bundestag is scheduled to debate four assisted suicide proposals on Friday November 6. The Handelsblatt Global Edition reported, in a mostly pro-euthanasia article, that the four proposals range from complete liberalization to completely protecting people from euthanasia and assisted suicide. According to the article:

It’s encouraging how openly parliament is discussing the subject. Four motions will be on the agenda on November 6, when the Bundestag votes on how assisted suicide will be handled in the future. Proposals range from drastic penalties for anyone who assists in a suicide to complete liberalization of euthanasia, even for those who are not sick.

Germany's Health Minister, for instance, has stated that he supports a ban on the business of assisted suicide, such as occurs at the suicide clinics in Switzerland.

On Monday, Germany's Jewish community stated their opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide. According to the Jewish Times:

The Central Council of Jews in Germany said Monday that there must be no liberalization of assisted suicide in the country.

Central Council President Josef Schuster, a physician and member of the Central Ethics Committee of the German Medical Association, said:

“Seriously ill and elderly people should not be pushed to commit suicide,” 
“Assisted suicide must not become a regular service provided by doctors, an alternative to care for the dying,”

Schuster urged more support for hospice and palliative care.

In December 2014, the German Ethics Council rejected a change in the assisted suicide law. In September 2014, the memorial to the T-4 euthanasia program victims opened in Berlin.

The German Medical Association opposes euthanasia.

Further information:

German Bundestag debates assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Assisted suicide was debated, today,  in the German Bundestag. The issue of assisted suicide has been debated for several years based on high profile cases of German citizens who have died by assisted suicide at a clinic in Switzerland.

According to Deutsche Welle media, the German Bundestag were presented with four competing draft bills.

One lawmaker, Ulla Schmidt of the Social Democrats (SPD), voiced a concern that assisted suicide harkens back to the euthanasia program employed during the Nazi era, and called on her colleagues to proceed with caution. 
Katrin Göring-Eckhardt of the Green party said she was a worried about becoming the type of society that expects "the suffering elderly and those in need to bring an end to their own lives." 
Renate Künast of the Greens and Petra Sitte of the Left party, would completely remove legal hurdles to assisted suicide. 
Michael Brand of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Kerstin Griese of the SPD have prepared what they call a "middle way" between punishing those who provide euthanasia assistance and a complete deregulation of the process. 
Another CDU member, Patrick Sensberg, presented a draft that sought to criminalize any sort of assisted suicide. ... He spoke of the personal burdens some doctors would have to bear if they were required to help any terminally ill patient who wanted their assistance committing suicide.

The article also noted

Opponents of Brand and Greise's draft said it would dissuade doctors from helping terminally ill patients seeking the right to die, in case angry relatives argue that doctors are making money from practicing.

The article concluded that

The only thing that all parties were able to agree on was the need to strengthen and spread the availability and services provided by hospices and palliative care wards.

In June 2012, the German Medical Association voted against euthanasia, to forbid euthanasia organizations and to urge the government to make the commercialization of suicide a crime.

It is expected that legislation will be passed by November 2015.

Link to the full article

German Parliament opposes assisted suicide groups.

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The German Bundestag debated the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide yesterday. German legislators did not debate a bill but rather they debated the general issues related to euthanasia and assisted suicide in order to determine the direction of future legislation. The media stated:

An unusual, highly emotional debate in German parliament ended with the majority expressing support for prohibiting organized assisted suicide. But not all representatives called for an outright ban of the practice.

The Majority of the members were opposed to the assisted suicide business. Volker Kauder (CDU) pointed to a recent development that he said is a cause for concern:

Organizations that offer assisted suicide services to their members. He said it was a "perversion" that, according to the amount in membership dues paid, assisted suicide services would be provided either immediately, or after a certain waiting period. "What does that have to do with humanity? " he asked. "Is that something we want to have in our society?"

According to the media, the German Health Minister opposes assisted suicide.

Link to the full article.

Germany debates euthanasia and assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The German parliament will be debating euthanasia and/or assisted suicide in their lower house today. According to the media, there is no bill before parliament, but the members are debating between their divided positions. The media has reported that:

No legislation is on the table yet, but five caucuses have developed on the issue, mostly crossing party lines. Some want to tighten rules against euthanasia, and others to legalize it as Belgium and the Netherlands have done. 
Germany currently permits doctors to cease life-extending treatment or to administer powerful and dangerous sedatives at a dying person‘s request, but assisting a suicide is a crime. The debate in the Bundestag was a first airing of the issue before bills are moved for debate.

Link to the full article

Memorial to German euthanasia victims

By Wesley J Smith - published on Wesley Smith's blog on September 4, 2014.

It wasn’t “the Nazis” that caused the mass euthanasia deaths of disabled infants and adults. It was the eugenics ideology of the era that denied human exceptionalism.

We are heading in the same direction–although certainly not mass murder of the kind that happened in Germany circa 1939-1945.

But we too have accepted the idea that there is such a thing as an unlivable life. Indeed, in the Netherlands, babies born with serious or terminal disabilities are killed in their cribs by doctors.

In Belgium and the Netherlands, people with serious mental illnesses are euthanized–to widespread applause.

Read More: http://www.alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2014/09/memorial-to-german-euthanasia-victims.html