As discussed earlier, the Swiss Penal Code allows for assistance. Swiss case law, however, has added further conditions. The person who wants assistance to die must possess:
1. decision-making capacity; and 2. they must have ‘control’ or ‘ownership of the action’ (‘Tatherrschaft’ in German) over their death (see Swiss Federal Court BGE 133 I 58).
This second point has been legally-interpreted as the need for the person, themselves, to push the button or drink the liquid unaided.
Under Swiss law, ‘euthanasia’ is not permitted. This means that even when a person opts for a lethal injection, it is fine for the doctor to insert the cannula into the person’s arm. However, it is the person, themselves, who must activate the drip delivering the Nembutal.
The person will do this by opening the tap on the intravenous line. Alternatively, if the person has opted for the Nembutal drink, he/she will be given a glass containing a mixture of the Nembutal powder and water. It is for them to drink the liquid either by a straw or by lifting the glass to their mouth.
There are a number of assisted suicide groups currently catering to non-Swiss nationals. However, this book has elected only to discuss the activities of our good friends at Pegasos Swiss Association in Basel.