Right-to-die movement continues to gain as the world ages

Right-to-die activists hope more countries will allow assisted suicide or euthanasia in coming years as the world population ages…

“We have seen over the last 20 years a general migration of positivity towards this being a just cause,” Ted Goodwin, the American president of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies, told a news conference in Zurich on Tuesday.

Goodwin was speaking as representatives of 55 right-to-die societies from around the world gathered for a three-day congress to mark the 30th anniversary of Exit, a Swiss group which provides lethal drugs to help the terminally ill die.

Assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since 1942, if performed by a non-physician who has no direct interest in the death. Euthanasia, or “mercy killing”, is legal only in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the U.S. state of Oregon…

He said ageing societies meant that half of medical costs are now falling in the last three to six months of life on care that does not change the trajectory of a disease…

A rise in terminally ill foreigners – particularly from Germany, France and Britain – travelling to Switzerland to commit suicide have prompted calls in recent years for the country to tighten its liberal laws.

But in 2010, voters in Zurich overwhelmingly rejected proposed bans on assisted suicide and “suicide tourism”, and in 2011, the national government decided against imposing new limits on assisted suicide.

Goodwin said the examples of Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon had not shown any noteworthy abuse. “Ours is a mission of compassion, of generosity. We know that no-one is more vulnerable than those who are dying and those dying in pain,” he said. “Society can provide protection for vulnerable individuals.”

Exit President Saskia Frei said the practice was carefully monitored by the Swiss authorities: “There is no death which is as closely investigated as assisted suicide,” she said.

Opponents of death with dignity generally are speaking for one-or-another religion. They have a perfect right to their beliefs – and I have a perfect right not to be forced to live by their religious rules.

As long as the United States – excepting Oregon – continues to maintain such inhumanity, I reserve the right to defy that law.

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