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Basel debates second Swiss right-to-die clinic

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Basel debates second Swiss right-to-die clinic
The Dignitas clinic is currently the only assisted dying facility in Switzerland. Photo: Sebastian Derungs/AFP
11:26 CEST+02:00
Exit, the Swiss organization that helps people to end their own lives, has asked local authorities for permission to change its Basel office into a facility for assisted suicide. If agreed, the building would become the second such facility in Switzerland, after Dignitas.

Exit, a member organization which supports “self-determined death” by arranging living wills or end-of-life care, helped 32 people in the Basel area die last year and is struggling to keep up with demand, according to Swiss broadcaster RTS.

Normally the organization assists the suicide of patients in hospitals or old people’s homes, but when that isn’t possible it transfers them by ambulance to Dignitas, in the canton of Zurich.

Exit’s application to transform its office in Binningen, near Basel, into a second Swiss assisted suicide clinic has not gone down well with local residents, who fear its presence will create an unwelcome atmosphere, reports RTS.

Local authorities are also concerned the move will increase so-called suicide tourism to the area, given Binningen’s proximity to the borders with France and Germany.

However these fears are unfounded, responded Exit, saying that the facility will only be used by a small number of people.

Of the 459 clients in the Zurich area that Exit helps to die each year, only 31 of them require such a facility.

However a recent study confirmed that suicide tourism in Switzerland has been on the rise over the past few years.

The report noted that 172 people had travelled to the country in 2012, double the number three years previously. The vast majority ended their lives at Dignitas.

Switzerland is one of the few countries where assisted dying is legal.

In May this year Exit voted to extend its services to elderly people who do not have a terminal illness, allowing those with problems relating to old age the choice to end their lives.

Quoted by British newspaper The Guardian, the president of the Swiss Medical Association criticized the move, saying it “cannot be ruled out that elderly healthy people could come under pressure of taking their own life.”

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