The Belgians – in favour of extending euthanasia to children and dementia sufferers

Publié le : 4 October 2013

 According to a an opinion poll published on Wednesday, 2 October 2013 in La Libre Belgique daily newspaper and carried out by the Dedicated Institute which interviewed 2,714 Belgians, "75% of Belgians are in favour of extending the law authorising euthanasia to those under 18 years of age and people suffering from dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease".             

According to this survey, in the case of children who are in a coma or prolonged vegetative state, "almost two out of five Belgians would be in favour of euthanasia", i.e. 74% have a positive response to the issue, 8% "tend to be against it" whilst 6% are "totally against it". 79% of those interviewed are apparently in favour of authorising euthanasia for adults suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or "serious vascular dementia where the suffering is no longer tolerable". 
This opinion poll covers two aspects: a draft bill initially aimed at extending euthanasia to minors and dementia sufferers is about to be debated once again in the Senate (Gènéthique press review on February 18th, 2013  and Gènéthique press review on April 22nd, 2013). In fact, in June 2013, discussions were put on hold because of tough opposition from the coalition government. Today, "those in favour of broadening the current remit are hoping […] that a decision will be reached before the end of the current legislature, scheduled for May 2014". Finally, the mercy killing of "a 44 year-old Belgian transsexual […] following failed sex change operation" has recently been highlighted by the media. He was granted the right to legal euthanasia after "unbearable psychological suffering". Professor Etienne Montero, Dean of the Faculty of Law in Namur reacted as follows to euthanasia: The main problem with Belgian legislation "is that as much as we try to adhere to the criteria for euthanasia based on a valid desire, Belgian legislation allows virtually all situations concerning euthanasia to be justified. Suffering is a subjective notion whilst the concept of a serious disease is open to interpretation".

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