Voters in Zurich are being given mixed messages about whether to allow or prevent people from being able to decide how to end their own lives.
The slogans are punchy and powerful: “Freedom at the end!” on one side against “Save life!” on the other.
They belong to opposing campaigns ahead of the cantonal vote on Sunday, when voters will have a say on two people’s initiatives: one calling for a ban on assisted suicide in Switzerland, the other for it to be restricted in Zurich.
The vote has attracted widespread attention. Not only because another vote will probably take place in 2012 in canton Vaud on assisted suicide in old people’s homes, but primarily because the federal government is due to put forward legislation on the activities of assisted suicide organisations.
Swiss law tolerates assisted suicide when patients commit the act themselves and helpers have no vested interest in their death. But since the 1990s pressure has grown on politicians following various scandals involving the deaths of mentally ill patients and so-called “suicide tourists”.