Switzerland has one of the most permissive assisted suicide laws in the world. The Swiss government chose not to pass any regulations on assisted suicide nationally, and now there are virtually no rules governing who can request assisted suicide or the conditions under which the lethal intervention is allowed. For this reason, people travel to Switzerland from around the world in order to die by assisted suicide when they are suffering from non-fatal conditions and even mental illness. This morbid suicide tourism is on the rise.
A recent article in the news outlet Swiss Info highlights the lobbying efforts of radical Swiss assisted suicide groups abroad. Not only do these organizations accept without question international travelers wishing to end their own lives, Swiss assisted suicide groups are infiltrating political discussions around the world to push for the legalization of assisted suicide in other countries. Although much of this cross-border political lobbying has been somewhat clandestine, assisted suicide groups are becoming more transparent about their aims and their political involvement.
The anti-Life organization Dignitas has been known as one of the main suicide tourism destinations in Switzerland. The group became notorious after broadcasting footage of patients dying by assisted suicide in documentaries aired in the UK and other countries. According to Swiss Info, Dignitas is described as a “fighting organization,” and claims to be committed to “universal militancy” in pushing for assisted suicide around the world. Other anti-Life organizations like the Eternal SPIRIT Foundation have expressed commitment “to promoting the legalisation of assisted suicide in all countries.”
As more nations consider legalizing assisted suicide, Dignitas disturbingly claimed, “There is still a lot of work to be done to make genuine freedom of choice and self-determination a reality in order to improve the quality of life and to prevent suicide attempts.” If doctors are coerced into actively participating in the suicides of vulnerable, depressed patients, perhaps there will be fewer “suicide attempts,” but there will certainly be more deaths. Patients facing difficult and uncertain circumstances should not be given a lethal prescription or injection; they need a full spectrum of care, including care for their mental health.
Despite this overtly aggressive and radical strategy by some of the most prolific assisted suicide groups in the world, the nations targeted by these lobbying efforts are often unaware of the international assisted suicide movement. Swiss Info states, “By and large, the media in countries where Dignitas has been active do not yet seem to have picked up on the organisation’s lobbying activities.” When such efforts are detected, they are not welcome. The group caused outrage in 2015 when they paid for anti-Life posters in Germany, but few of the lobbying activities have been as public. As Swiss Info notes the group continues to go unnoticed, which “may be because much of it was conducted quietly and out of public view. Indeed, all of Dignitas’ activities – except the Berlin poster campaign – tend to fly under the radar.”
Some Pro-Life activists have realized the full extent of anti-Life groups’ international lobbying and tried to warn governments. Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Canadian Pro-Life group Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said, “It is very irresponsible for governments to take the reports of the assisted-suicide lobby seriously when examining the question of legalising assisted death in their jurisdictions.” Yet, many politicians remain unaware of the extreme and radical bias of the reports they receive from groups like Dignitas.
Anti-Life lobbyists from Dignitas and Eternal SPIRIT remain convinced that they are carrying out the “will of the people” by demanding the legalization of assisted suicide around the world. Erika Preisig of Eternal SPIRIT claimed, “It is always politicians and above all religious groups who work against us,” suggesting that most of the citizens want assisted suicide. Polls showing a majority in favor of assisted suicide are highly problematic, and if the context of polling questions is taken into consideration, the overwhelming support anti-Life activists claim disappears. More importantly, assisted suicide is state-sanctioned murder, the killing of a human being. Even if 51% of the population thinks this should be legal, the rule of law demands that taking a human Life cannot be legal.
Ironically, elsewhere on the Swiss Info news site, a political commentator opines that Switzerland’s status as a politically neutral moral authority in world affairs is “in jeopardy” due to recent events. An examination of the assisted suicide movement spawned in Switzerland and infiltrating nations around the world suggests Switzerland surrendered the status of moral authority many years ago. Any nation that sanctions the killing of some human beings endangers all human lives and cannot be deemed just.