The Swiss have voted in favour of keeping the door open to foreigners for assisted suicide. The results of a referendum showed that just 20 percent of Swiss citizens supported a ban on foreigners travelling to their country for the so-called “suicide tourism”.
The conservative Federal Democratic Union party in Switzerland wanted to restrict who could travel to the country to end their lives.
The motion sought to impose a one-year residency requirement for those who wanted to end their lives in Switzerland.
A second vote on the ballot – to impost an outright ban on assisted suicides – was heavily defeated with only 13 per cent agreeing with the proposal.
The votes will come as a shock for the party which believed it had a “real chance” of putting an end to the practice.
Over the past decade, more than 1,000 foreigners, mainly terminally ill people, have taken their live at the Dignitas clinic near Zurich.
Patients pay several thousand pounds for the service. The terminally ill go to “dying room” where they drink a lethal barbiturate-laced cocktail.
Some 164 Britons are among those who have travelled to Switzerland to die.
However the company has been accused by critics and former staff members of being a profit-driven organisation that actively promotes a “culture of death”.
Its founder Ludwig Minnelli – who has become a multi-millionaire through his business – recently said that he wanted people who were depressed to be able to end their lives with the help of his organisation.
The company was forced to move out of a residential block of flats four years ago when homeowners complained of having to share a single lift with corpses in body bags.
Minnelli has also angered local authorities after dumping ashes in the pristine waters of Lake Zurich.
The company takes the line that it accompanies people who are terminally ill or suffer from an “unendurable disability” to a dignified and painless end.
Assisted suicide has been allowed in Switzerland since 1941 if performed by a non-physician who has no vested interest in the death.
Euthanasia, or “mercy killing”, is legal only in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the U.S. state of Oregon.