Belgium: 1,000 cases of euthanasia each year without the patients’ consent

Publié le 12 Feb, 2018

Every year, 1,000 Belgians are given a lethal injection without requesting it. This point was highlighted on 29 January by Doctor Marc Cosyns[1], during the trial of Ivo Poppe, the nurse accused of murdering about twenty people (see Belgium: former nurse accused of administering euthanasia to dozens of patients”).


Marc Cosyns has always said that there is no need to decriminalise euthanasia “because he believes that the physician is consciously acting in the interests of the patient’s well-being and ‘is accompanying him/her’ in the dying process”. He personally believes that it isn’t always useful to report “assisted” cases of dying to the Federal Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission.


He deplores the fact that euthanasia in Belgium is restricted to patients who have made a request and given their formal consent because “nurses generally shorten the lives of their patients discretely, without being asked to do it. They feel obliged to take action because doctors refuse to do it themselves”, stated Doctor Cosyns. Indeed, he believes that, even without consent, this is a straightforward medical procedure that has no connection with murder. He wants “greater transparency but without reprisals, in order to alleviate the conscience of medical personnel”.


As far as Public Prosecutor Serge Malefason is concerned, Ivo Poppe is undoubtedly an assassin because“even implicitly, he was never asked to do it. (…) The law is there for everyone. You shall not kill – that’s it”.


[1] Professor of Medical Ethics, Ethics and Palliative Care at Ghent University, Belgian physician and pioneer of euthanasia since the 1990s and the first to practise legal euthanasia in Belgium.

Institut Européen de Bioéthique (30/01/2018)

RTBF (30/01/2018)

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