Whilst the question of euthanasia is regularly raised with French legislators, an initial evaluation of the legalisation concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide in Belgium, Holland and Switzerland was published in La Revue du Praticien in January 2019. This review merits special attention.
Some of the most striking figures relate to Belgium where
- 50% of euthanasia cases are not reported to the Federal Commission for the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia (FCCEE). The FCCEE acknowledges this finding in its own 2016-2017 report: “The Commission has no way of assessing the proportion of euthanasia cases reported in relation to the number of euthanasias actually carried out“.
- Out of a cohort of 208 people who died by lethal injection, “32% had not explicitly expressed a wish to undergo euthanasia“. Of these 208 individuals, the decision had “not even been discussed with the parties concerned in 78% of cases“. The following reasons were given: “the patients were comatose (70%), had dementia (21%)“, “the physicians proceeded without consent because they felt that euthanasia was ‘clearly in the patient’s best interest’ (17%)”, and “discussing it with the patient would have been harmful to that patient (8%) “.
- In 12% of euthanasia cases, lethal injections were administered by nurses. “In such situations, the injection was carried out without the doctor being present in 64% of cases“.
- The FCCEE acknowledged that “the unbearable nature of the suffering required by law is largely subjective and depends on the patient’s personality, conceptions and values“.
- 11% of general practitioners performing euthanasia have received training in palliative care.
In Switzerland, assisted suicide for a patient capable of making a judgement is acceptable, “when the symptoms of a disease and/or functional limitations cause unbearable suffering and other options have failed or have been deemed unacceptable by the patient“. The study also notes that in Oregon, “ 40% of those likely to access euthanasia do not follow up their original intention“.