In Belgium, euthanasia legislation is still hotly debated

Publié le 26 Jan, 2016

In 2002, Belgium adopted a legal framework to “develop ‘palliative care for all’, whilst decriminalising euthanasia under specific rigorous conditions”.


Nowadays, doctors are taught that euthanasia is a “complimentary act to palliative care in the most difficult end-of-life cases”, and sometimes even “the ultimate medical act”. Euthanasia has been trivialised for many years. This has been borne out by “the official statistics”, which highlight “an exponential rise in the number of procedures”.


In 2011, the capped figure of 1,000 cases of euthanasia per annum was crossed. In 2015, 2,020 cases of euthanasia were officially reported, “i.e. more than 5 cases a day”. For Professor Etienne Montero, “death induced by a physician is no longer perceived as an exception in criminal law but as a personal choice, on par with death due to natural causes”.


In palliative care centres, some denounce “negation of ‘a genuine palliative philosophy’”. New ethical questions are emerging: “How to comply with the conscience clause of medical professionals? Should some establishments decide not to practise euthanasia ?” These are questions on which members of the Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics have not been heard.

Other debates, often triggering wide media coverage, oppose public opinion and that of carers, namely, “euthanasia due to mental suffering”. This led approximately sixty doctors to demand a review of the law to prevent its application in such circumstances.


And in France, as in Belgium, “parliamentary debate is fraught with divergent viewpoints”.


La Croix (Raphaëlle d’Yvoire) 27/01/2016

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