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2013: New record in terms of the number of euthanasia cases in Belgium

Publié le : 30 May 2014

 “A new record is set every year”. According to the figures published by the Belgian daily newspaper, Le Soir, Belgium witnessed another rise in the number of euthanasia cases, totalling 1,816 in 2013 compared to 1,432 in 2012, i.e. an increase of 26.8%. This represents an increase of 700% compared to 2002, when euthanasia was first legalised in Belgium.

According to the draft report issued by the Belgian Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Committee, euthanasia is more popular amongst Dutch-speaking citizens of Belgian than French.  This is undoubtedly because of their closeness to the Netherlands – “the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia”. We also learned that 73% of patients were cancer sufferers.

In 10 years, the Control Committee has never detected any anomalies in the records. But this does not stop Etienne Dujardin, co-ordinator of Dossards jaunes, from raising questions: “Can we really accept such a high increase in incurable diseases in Belgium?” and “Professor Wim Distelmans, co-president of this Commission* personally confirmed in 2012 that almost half of euthanasia cases were carried out illegally in Belgium!”. Etienne Dujardin clearly refers to a “spin-off”. In fact, this is borne out by high-profile cases. This year, a 44 year-old Belgian man was euthanized after a failed sex change operation, and two 45 year-old deaf brothers chose to die after becoming blind, etc.

“Will doctors have the right to decide who will live and who will die?” ask those who are reluctant to accept euthanasia. A Belgian Intensive Care company recently published a document on “unrequested” euthanasia. Professor Jean-Louis Vincent, former president of this intensive care company declared in a statement published in the daily newspaper, Le Soir (25 February 2014), that “unrequested euthanasia, which is carried out on a more regular basis should generate interest ” and “death is hastened when the quality of life is no longer adequate”.

It should be remembered that Belgium became the first country in the world to authorise euthanasia for minors, with no age limit. 

*Professor Distelmans and the Control Commission are highly controversial issues in Belgium (Cf Synthèse Gènéthique du 30 avril 2014). 

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