Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dignitas prepares legal challenge over assisted suicide for healthy people | Society |

Dignitas prepares legal challenge over assisted suicide for healthy people | Society |

The founder of a Swiss clinic that has helped hundreds of people with terminal and mental illnesses die said today he was seeking a change to the law to allow his organisation to help healthy people kill themselves.

Ludwig Minelli, whose Dignitas group has helped more than 100 mostly terminally ill Britons to die, told the BBC he planned to test the legality of helping a healthy person end their life alongside their dying partner.

Minelli said Dignitas was preparing a legal challenge in Switzerland to see whether a doctor could write a lethal prescription for someone who is not ill.

'There is a couple living in Canada, the husband is ill, his partner is not ill but she told us here in my living room that, 'If my husband goes, I would go at the same time with him',' he said.

'This will constitute some problem for us, especially also for the Swiss physician and we will now probably go to the courts in order to clear this question.'

Minelli said there should be virtually no restrictions on helping people to kill themselves, describing it as 'a marvellous possibility'.

On the whole I favour legal access to self-adminstered life ending medications for the terminally ill. In Britain we have a typically British half-way house. Opiates will be freely administered to those in pain, and those who accompany family members to Switzerland seem not to be prosecuted. Any such prosecution would face a serious possibility of jury nullification.

The Swiss organistion seems to want to draw a bright line around what is legal, and more or less allow doctors to prescribe drugs for suicide to anyone.

That goes too far. Some lines are better kept fuzzy.

No comments: