Swiss vote to continue assisted suicide

Swiss voters rejected proposals to ban assisted suicide and so-called "suicide tourism" yesterday in a referendum which permits British citizens and other foreign nationals to continue visiting the country to obtain help in ending their lives.

An 80 per cent majority polled in the Swiss city of Zurich – the home of two leading assisted-suicide organisations – voted against outlawing the practice despite surveys which have shown strong objections to suicide tourism.

Proposals to rein in the practice were made by Switzerland's conservative Evangelical Peoples' Party and the Federal Democratic Union. The country's two main parties, the right-wing Swiss People's Party and the Social Democrats, opposed the ban.

Eighty-five per cent of the 278,000 people who voted opposed the ban on assisted suicide and 78 per cent opposed outlawing it for foreigners.

Dignitas, one of the Zurich organisations, says it has helped more than 1,000 foreigners to end their lives in recent years, including 160 from Britain.