Voters in Zürich rejected a proposed ban on assisted suicide and "suicide tourism", or foreigners crossing over to Switzerland seeking help in ending their lives.
According to reports at least 200 people commit assisted suicide each year in Zürich. Assisted suicide has been in practice in Switzerland since 1941, if done by a non-physician who has no vested interest in the death of the person. On the other hand Euthanasia or 'mercy killing' is legally confined to Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Oregon and the United States.
The Swiss laws on suicides are one of the most liberal, and many terminally ill patients fly to Switzerland to avail this opportunity of ending their life, without any legal hassles.
However, in recent years, there has ensued a heated debate in Switzerland about allowing this rule to continue. The debate arose because the number of terminally ill patients visiting Switzerland has increased and, surprisingly many of them were found to be not suffering from any terminal illness.
The Swiss Government is contemplating to change the law on assisted suicide to make sure that it is used as a last resort by the terminally ill, and to curtail the increasing rate of 'suicide tourism'.
However, early projections show that voters in Switzerland have rejected both initiatives to block assisted suicide and 'suicide tourism' in local referendums.