Recent government statistics indicate that the number of reported assisted deaths increased from 1133 in 2011 to 1432 in 2012, representing 2% of all deaths in Belgium. The number of reported assisted deaths in 2010 was 954. It is important to note that these statistics do not include the unreported assisted deaths.
The study that found that 32% of the assisted deaths are done without request, indicated that the people who died by euthanasia without request were usually: incompetent, did not have cancer, were over the age of 80, and living in a hospital. The same study indicated that these deaths represented "a vulnerable patient group."
The response by Belgian legislators to the abuses of the euthanasia law is to widen the definitions of the law to includechildren with disabilities and people with dementia. By widening the definitions in the law, fewer doctors will be abusing the law. It is also feared that the proposed changes to the euthanasia law may effect thefreedom of consciencefor health care workers in Belgium.
The proposed changes to the Belgium euthanasia law, combined with the lack of attempted prosecutions for abusing the Belgium euthanasia law, in conjunction with the massive increases in the number of euthanasia deaths, indicates that a slippery slope, also known as incremental extensions, has occurred in Belgium.
• A written declaration of a desire for euthanasia is required, either by the patient or a surrogate. However, the Commission often waives this obligation.
• Initially patients had to have a life‐threatening and incurable illness. Nowadays, the illness need only be serious and debilitating.
• The pain is supposed to be unbearable, unremitting and unrelievable. However, a patient can refuse medication to relieve the pain. The Commission, says the IEB, has ‘decided not to carry out its mission ‐ so central to the law ‐ of verifying the unbearable and unrelievable nature of the suffering’.
• The ambit of ‘psychological suffering’ is ever-expanding.
• Doctor-assisted suicide is not authorised by 2002 legislation. However, the Commission has ignored this and regularly signs off on such cases.
• If a patient is to be euthanised at home, the doctor himself is supposed to fetch the lethal medications at a pharmacy from a registered pharmacist and to return left-over drugs. In practice, family members often get the drugs; unqualified personnel hand them over; and no checks have ever been made about surplus drugs.’
To learn more about the current practice and abuses of the Belgian and Netherlands euthanasia laws, by ordering the book, by Alex Schadenberg ($20 includes shipping): Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Exposing Vulnerable People will prepare you to oppose the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) hopes that Belgian legislators will open their eyes to the reality of their euthanasia experiment and reverse their direction. If not, we hope that the rest of the world will recognize how dangerous legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide is and how it threatens the lives of their citizens.
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