Luxembourg euthanasia report conceals more than it reveals

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

needlesexitinternationalOn Wednesday the Luxembourg euthanasia commission released its semi-annual report. According to the report, in 2013-2014, 15 people died by euthanasia, which was a slight increase from 14 people who died by euthanasia in 2011-2012.

Luxembourg is a small European country nestled between German and France. The latest statistics indicating a population of 537,000 and approximately 3,850 people deaths each year.

The media article states that no abuse of the euthanasia law occurred. This conveniently omits that the system of reporting euthanasia deaths in Luxembourg is not designed to uncover abuse.

In Luxembourg euthanasia reports are sent to the commission after the person has died by the doctor who lethally injected the person. Since doctors are highly unlikely to self-report failures to comply, it is impossible to determine whether or not abuse has occurred.

In 2008, Grand Duke Henri, the monarch of Luxembourg, refused to sign the euthanasia bill into law. The Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies reacted by stripping him of his executive power to veto laws. The Grand Duke was a hero.

A recent death study from the Flanders region of Belgium was published in the NEJM on March 19, 2015 found that 1.7% of all deaths in 2013 were intentionally hastened without explicit request and almost half of the assisted deaths were unreported in 2013.

The Belgian death study was complied by sending questionnaires to the doctors who certified the death certificates in 6,188 deaths in the first half of 2013. The researchers received 3,751 responses. Since the researchers are third-party researchers who investigated all deaths, they were able to uncover abuse of the Belgian euthanasia law.

This means that more than 1,000 Belgian deaths were hastened without explicit request in 2013.

A similar study from 2007 found that 1.8% of all deaths were hastened without explicit request and almost half of the assisted deaths went unreported.

Editor’s note. This appeared at alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca