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Assisted suicide allowed in Swiss hospital as of Jan. 1

.- Lausanne University Hospital has decided to permit assisted suicides, effective Jan. 1, and now other leading Swiss hospitals are also discussing permitting the procedure, reported Doctors For Life in a press release issued yesterday.

Though Swiss law initially did not allow doctors to kill their patients, the practice of euthanasia has been gradually extended from private groups into the public health care systems.

Given a similar debate in South Africa, Doctors For Life urges the South African government and health authorities to uphold the intrinsic value of life and keep euthanasia illegal in the country. The organization is also calling upon all institutions that provide training to health professionals to improve training in palliative care, pain management and depression.

In the Netherlands, doctors have been allowed to practice euthanasia since 1973. While Dutch laws initially required that euthanasia be limited to the sickest patients, it has been steadily redefined, the press release pointed out. As a result, Dutch doctors now legally kill people with terminal or chronic illness, disabilities or depression on demand. Furthermore, repeated studies sponsored by the Dutch government show that doctors kill a significant number of their patients every year as a result of involuntary euthanasia, the medical association reported.

Eugenic infanticide also exists in the Netherlands. According to a 1997 study, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, approximately 8 percent of all Dutch infant deaths result from lethal injections. As well, 45 percent of neonatologists and 31 percent of pediatricians who responded to Lancet surveys had killed babies.

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