Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nothing dignified about Dignitas

Large quantities of human ash dumped into Lake Zürich, a young man forced to pay for a fatal prescription he didn't want to use, drab, poorly furnished death rooms and neighbours complaining about having to share their tenement lift with a steady stream of dead bodies... and one man making a great deal of money out of vulnerable people's despair. This is the picture being given of the Dignitas suicide clinic in Switzerland run by Ludwig Minelli. I have already posted on the interview a former Dignitas employee gave to a British newspaper earlier in the year.

Now, Daniel Gall, a man who accompanied a relative to the clinic for an assisted suicide, is writing a book about the "sinister place" in which his sister died.

One story I do not remember reading in the original Daily Mail interview, but which is quoted here is the occasion when a young man was talked out of suicide by Soraya Wernli when she was still employed by Dignitas. According to her, Minelli was "very cross" with her for encouraging the boy to live. So much for encouraging autonomy and freedom of choice.

Pro-euthanasia groups sometimes claim that decriminalising assisted dying would stop people like Minelli profiting from vulnerable people seeking to end their lives, but what it would actually do is to ensure that many more unscrupulous individuals were given the chance to do exactly the same thing without fear of prosecution. Ludwig Minelli's shabby little suicide clinic is a warning to every government in the world to strengthen laws against assisted suicide and to protect the most vulnerable members of society.