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Friday, January 9, 2009

Dignitas Under Investigation

Not Dead Yet noted that British and Swiss newspaper are reporting that Dignitas, the assisted suicide clinic where Daniel James and almost 1,000 other people ended their life, is under investigation. According to the Swiss newspaper Blick the man in charge of Dignitas, Ludwig Minelli, financial affairs are under investigation. Mr. Minelli has apparently failed or refused to provide investigators with financial documents requested. Newspapers report that Swiss authorities are concerned Mr. Minelli may be profiting from those that have sought assisted suicide at the clinic Dignitas. Some sensational reports claim that one British woman supposedly paid ten times the normal fee to end her life.

This is not the first time Dignitas and Mr. Minelli have generated scandalous headlines. In 2008 Dignitas was evicted from a Zurich flat it owned. Residents complained about bodies being taken out in the elevator and hearses parked outside the building. Another avenue of investigation involved membership in Dignitas. Apparently any person that seeks assisted suicide must become a member of Dignitas. Exactly what membership entails and what it costs is unknown. According to Juerg Vollenweider, state prosecutor in Zurich, authorities do not know what Dignitas does with the money it is paid. Regardless of one's views on assisted suicide, profiting from the death of another human being is morally repugnant and illegal. If Mr. Minelli is profiteering from assisted suicides arranged by Dignitas he should be prosecuted under Swiss law.

9 comments:

Mia said...

I'm glad he's being investigated.

Almost completely off-topic (or extremely tangential to the topic)...
Over at www.change.org they are collecting people's votes on the top 10 ideas that should be presented to the incoming administration.
One of those is Fully funding Medicaid Waivers.
It's currently in 20th place.

william Peace said...

Mia, I tried to be very polite in my comments about Dignitas. If the founder is profiting from assisted suicide he should spend the rest of his life in jail.

It may have been off topic but the reference to change.org was great. I hope fully funding medicaid waivers gets to the top ten.

Complicity Theory said...

I'm struck by the notion of profiting off assisted suicide... first off, I'm horrified by the notion. Then I'm wondering about the role volunteerism would play. Then the issues related to someone making a profit off the materials used in a suicide. And my mind spins. Suicide is personally problematic. I respect individual choice, but also recognize that choice can be forced by a lack of support and opportunities. With all possible support and consideration, if someone wants to die, I support it, but we rarely give enough support. I will always be left with the notion that someone who may want to die has not been given all the possible options to live. Not that I would block someone's choice. But I would continue to feel that it is incumbent on us to also provide support for the desire to live.

william Peace said...

In my estimation there is no need to make assisted suicide legal. Hospices exist for terminally ill people near death. Hospitals heavily medicate people who are clearly dying to the point they are unaware of what is transpiring.

Your point about supporting people is spot on. As a society we do not support those that need it the most. We warehouse those that we deem unfit, disabled people, elderly, and those with cognitive deficits. We have people like Peter Singer who advocates killing children born with severe cognitive deficits and the press fawns over his pronouncements and Princeton pays him big bucks. This is deeply troubling and in some way as ghoulish as people seeking profit from assisted suicide.

Complicity Theory said...

It is really tough. I would like to have the right for doctor assisted suicide for ME, personally. But I oppose it, despite this desire, because I'm personally convinced that it will be used/imposed/sold to others who may not be able to make such a profound ethical choice uninfluenced by others. I'm so happy that my disabilities (cognitive, perceptual, psychomotor) fell under the radar until I was well educated and experienced enough to engage them. It was a rough life, but still I was lucky enough to be able to tough it out. That too is rare and lucky. It just reminds me how many people do not have enough tools to defend their right to exist.

As long as I can perceive the sun rising, and am not in such pain that I can appreciate it, that's enough to make me want to live my life. I can't but want to afford that dignity to all, if it is within my power.

I do like the notions of living wills, where at least I could make a choice to not be kept artificially alive past a point I previously chose to no longer have medical intervention. And if I chose too early, that's my problem.

Thanks for bringing up such interesting topics.

william Peace said...

Complicit, Suicide should be an individual's choice. But when it is legislated it is simply dangerous. We humans are fragile creatures. Ending one's life is not difficult nor is figuring out how to do so. The real trick is the timing.

Life for those that do not fit in for a host of reasons is not easy. Do you know Leslie Fielder's theory "tyranny of the normal"? His work on freaks is simply fascinating as are the implications of his theory.

Glad you like my blog. I aspire to make people think as all good teachers do regardless of the level of education.

M. said...

Many people profit, or even make a living, from other people's deaths.

Assisted suicide, like suicide in general, is a basic human right.

Complicity Theory said...

Basic Human Right? I missed that one. Human rights are defined by, and often denied by, humans. So, we've got things like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights) or individual variations by country. I don't see 'assisted suicide' as a basic right in any context. Where did you see it stated as a basic human right?

william Peace said...

M, I assume by profiting from death you refer to the industry associated with death, i.e. funeral homes services. This is a far cry from what Dignitas may or may not be doing.

I never considered suicide a "basic human right" and do not understand what you mean. I associate rights with living human beings. Sadly, human rights are denied many and I do not see how choosing to die is a "basic human right".