Carine Brochier from the European Institute of Bioethics has delivered her analysis to coincide with the publication of the 2016 Report by the Commission for the Evaluation and Control of Euthanasia in Belgium (see En Belgique, la commission de contrôle de l’euthanasie publie son 7e rapport – In Belgium, the Euthanasia Control Committee publishes its 7th report).
It should be remembered that “these figures only give a glimpse of the real picture behind euthanasia in Belgium,” she explained. These are “official euthanasias” to which should be added the unreported “clandestine” cases. This figure, which is impossible to evaluate, is undoubtedly high because “some medical professionals – fortunately not all – tend to relax the rules to a certain extent when granting euthanasia requests”, often acting “with impunity”.
Euthanasia has become commonplace over the past 14 years: “It was originally supposed to be carried out only in exceptional circumstances”, but today, “legal terminology facilitates an increasingly broader interpretation of the practice because the terms were unclear from the outset”. Suffering “is fundamentally a personal concept”, which precludes control over ‘strict conditions’ governing the application of legislation. Carine Brochier denounces this “euthanasia mentality” which is bringing us increasingly closer to a form of “on demand” euthanasia. And aren’t we right in saying that supply creates demand?
Furthermore, it is difficult to limit “many of the medical conditions frequently cited in euthanasia requests”. Carine Brochier takes the example of “comorbidities”: “There are situations where, essentially because of the ageing process, a person is predisposed to physical frailty because of his/her advanced age. These problems build up, causing that person to suffer and become dependent on his/her family (…). A certain isolation may develop over time (…) Mental suffering is compounded by solitude”. A combination of these factors can make someone “want to end it all” through “sheer despair”. We must therefore take an immediate look at the “attention and companionship we give our parents”. “In the end, doesn’t euthanasia drive our inability to provide lasting care for people?”
“We must make sure that euthanasia does not become a means of resolving the structural problems facing our society”. “Euthanasia must not be the answer to our lack of financial resources” stressed Carine Brochier. For this reason, it is “essential to adopt an ideology whereby the individual is the only person in the world to be master/mistress of his/her own life”.