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Other countries.

Doubts have been raised as well over the Swiss assisted-suicide organization Dignitas. This group was founded in Zurich in 1998. For a nominal fee, terminally ill people can become members and receive assistance in committing suicide. Some of the deaths of its members have raised a red flag. Eighty per cent of the clinic's clients are foreigners, and they are usually put to death the day after their arrival in Zurich, leaving little time to make a serious assessment of their physical and psychological condition (Globe & Mail, Nov. 29, 2004).

In June the local press reported that the group had transferred its operations from the canton of Zurich to that of Aargau, following a tightening of regulations by Zurich authorities.

A number of cases involving British citizens have received wide publicity in Britain. The newspaper Independent reported on an inquest into the deaths of a British couple, Robert and Jennifer Stokes, who had turned to Dignitas on June 23. The Bedfordshire coroner found that the couple suffered from chronic diseases and had a history of mental illness--but they were not terminally ill. All the same, in March they received help in obtaining a lethal dose of drugs from Dignitas. The coroner noted that the couple did not fulfill the requirement of Swiss law that assisted-suicide patients be terminally ill. Nor did they have sound judgment--another legal requirement.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland says the issue of euthanasia needs to be re-examined in light of the belief that God does not want people to suffer unbearably. The Health Minister in Guernsey has written a minority report in favour of euthanasia, and a local politician has called for a referendum on the issue. In England, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Physicians no longer oppose the Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill. The House of Commons has passed the government's Mental Capacity Bill despite concerns that it will permit euthanasia by withdrawal of necessary treatment of food and fluids.

In Australia a recent report confirmed that a euthanasia advocate who eventually committed suicide was not suffering from cancer (Brisbane Courier-Mail, June 8, 2004). Nancy Crick became a nationally renowned figure and hoped her case would lead to laws permitting assisted suicide. She was being advised by the notorious euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke. Crick had affirmed she was suffering from cancer. But an exhaustive postmortem report, published two years after her suicide, ruled out any possibility that she had cancer. The police have refused to lay charges in the case, even though assisted suicide is illegal in the state of Queensland where Crick died.
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Title Annotation:WORLD REPORT
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:4E
Date:May 1, 2005
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Next Article:Physicians are hastening deaths.

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