Euthanasia is out-of-control in Belgium: Quebec’s euthanasia bill (Bill 52) is based on the Belgian euthanasia law

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Marc and Eddy Verbessem

Marc and Eddy Verbessem

Quebec is currently debating a medical model to decriminalize euthanasia. Bill 52, the Quebec euthanasia bill, uses similar definitions as those used by the Belgian euthanasia law.

The following information is based on data from Belgium.

Deaths without request or consent

A study that was published in the June 2010 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded that 32% of euthanasia deaths in the Flemish region of Belgium are done without explicit request. A similar study that was published in the same edition concluded that 45% of euthanasia deaths involving nurses in Belgium were done without explicit request.

Many people claim that the Belgian euthanasia law is controlled and yet the data indicates that many euthanasia deaths are never reported.

Belgian nurses involvement in euthanasia

The Belgian euthanasia law specifically limits the act of euthanasia to physicians. The study that was published in the same edition of the CMAJ found that when nurses were involved with the euthanasia death the lethal dose was injected by the nurse 12% of the time. The study indicated that in 12 cases the doctor was not present at the time of injection and twice, the nurse did not consult the physician. All of these acts are technically illegal in Belgium.

There has never been an attempted prosecution for abuses of the Belgian euthanasia law.

Under-reporting of euthanasia.

A study that was published in the October 2010 edition of the BritishMedical Journal concluded that euthanasia deaths are significantly under-reported in the Flemish region of Belgium. The study found that only 52.8% of euthanasia deaths in the Flemish region of Belgium were reported.

Belgian government statistics indicate that the number of reported assisted deaths increased by 25% from 1133 in 2011 to 1432 in 2012, representing 2% of all deaths in Belgium. The number of reported assisted deaths in 2010 was 954. It is important to note that these statistics do not include the unreported assisted deaths.

Data indicates that euthanasia is under-reported and done without request. This proves that the actual practice of euthanasia is not accurately represented in the Belgium government reports.

Euthanasia requests are rarely refused

A study that was published in November 2011 in PubMed.gov found that only 5% of euthanasia deaths are refused in Belgium, compared to a 12% refusal rate in the Netherlands. The study stated that: “Unfortunately we have no information on the reasons why the attending physicians from our study refused to grant requests.”

Expansion of criteria for euthanasia

Recent reports political debate in Belgium and media reports concern the expansion of euthanasia to include teenagers, infants and children with disabilities, and people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The main reason that for expanding the criteria for euthanasia in Belgium is that doctors are breaking the law, so the law needs to be changed.

Organ Donation and Euthanasia

Euthanasia is also being promoted as a good act in Belgium within the concept of euthanasia and organ transplant. Organ donationcreates a new purpose to steer people who have healthy organs but also have a life threatening or chronic condition toward death by organ transplant.

The euthanasia lobby continues to wave the flags of choice and autonomy when at the same time the practice of euthanasia in Belgium is under-reported, is being done without request, is being done to people who cannot consent (Alzheimer/Dementia), and is being done by pressuring people with healthy organs to give the “gift of life.”

Euthanasia is out-of-control.

This January it was reported that Belgian identical twins, Marc and Eddy Verbessem, were euthanized because they feared becoming blind (http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2013/01/belgian-twins-euthanized-out-of-fear-of.html).

In February it was reported that a woman with Anorexia Nervosa died by euthanasia (http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2013/02/belgian-woman-with-anorexia-nervosa.html).

Also in February, Tom Mortier wrote an article about the euthanasia death of his depressed mother in April 2012. Mortier stated:

“The death of my mother has triggered a lot of questions. How is it possible that people can be euthanised in Belgium without close family or friends being contacted? Why does my country give medical doctors the exclusive power to decide over life and death? … What are the criteria to decide what ‘unbearable suffering’ is? Can we rely on such a judgment for a mentally ill person?”

Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide is not safe

The Belgian people should be very concerned that those who are incompetent and/or depressed are dying by euthanasia and very few requests for euthanasia are rejected.

The government of Quebec will be debating Bill 52, a bill that will legalize euthanasia as a form of medical treatment. Bill 52 is based on the Belgian euthanasia law.

The Quebec government needs to reject Bill 52, the Quebec government bill to legalize euthanasia that is based on the Belgian euthanasia law. Bill 52 is dangerous and it is bad medicine for people with disabilities.

Editor’s note. This first appeared at http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2013/09/euthanasia-is-out-of-control-in-belgium.html