Experience in Belgium

The Euthanasia experience in Belgium

The Belgian parliament legalized euthanasia on 28 May 2002 and it has a very liberal euthanasia law which is widely abused.

In December 2013, the Belgian Senate voted in favor of extending its euthanasia law to terminally-ill children. Conditions imposed on children seeking euthanasia are "the patient must be conscious of their decision and understand the meaning of euthanasia", "the request must have been approved by the child's parents and medical team", "their illness must be terminal", "they must be in great pain, with no available treatment to alleviate their distress". In March 2014, the Belgian King signed the bill into law, putting to rest weeks of speculation on whether he would approve the law amid strong opposition from organizations throughout Belgium and Europe.

The legislation, which grants children the right to request euthanasia if they are “in great pain” and there is no available treatment, makes Belgium the first country in the world where the age of the child is not taken into consideration.

“Currently the Belgian euthanasia law limits euthanasia to people who are at least 18 years old. This unprecedented bill would extend euthanasia to children with disabilities,” says Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.  

“The Belgian Socialist government is adamant that the euthanasia law needs to extend to minors and people with dementia even though there is significant examples of how the current law is being abused and the bracket creep of acceptable reasons for euthanasia continues to grow. The current practice of euthanasia in Belgium appears to have become an easy way to cover-up medical errors.”

Dr Paul Saba of Physicians for Social Justice, is very concerned about the situation in Belgium and said... 

They are already euthanising people who are depressed or tired of life because they have taken the interpretations of saying physical and/or psychological suffering – you don’t have to have both, if you have one, why is that not enough? If you are suffering, it’s a personal experience and it would be discriminatory for someone to judge what a person is suffering.

“What this teaches us is that despite the government’s assurances that they will set very strict criteria, that won’t work.”

Meanwhile, according to Schadenberg:

The number of euthanasia deaths in Belgium is skyrocketing with an increase of 25% in 2012. Recent studies indicate that up to 47% of all assisted deaths are not being reported, 32% of all assisted deaths are being done without request and nurses are killing their patients, even though the law restricts euthanasia to doctors.

Some Belgian experts are supporting the extension of euthanasia to children with disabilities because they say that it is being done already. The same medical experts suggest that the extension of euthanasia will result in an increase of 10 to 100 euthanasia deaths each year.

The Belgian euthanasia law appears out-of-control. The Belgian Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission appear to be in a conflict of interest. The Commission supported the euthanasia deaths of: Nathan Verhelst (44) who was born as Nancy, Ann G who had Anorexia Nervosa and was sexually exploited by her psychiatrist, Mark & Eddy Verbessem, and at least one depressed woman. These are only the cases that we know about.

Dr Wim Distelmans, who is the leading euthanasia doctor in Belgium has also been the chairman of the Belgium euthanasia commission for more than 10 years, and the commission has been stacked with supporters of the euthanasia lobby.

The Netherlands already allows children over the age of 12 to request euthanasia with the consent of their parents.

Disabled 4-year-old pleads for Belgium not to allow doctors to euthanize children

As Belgium prepares to become the first country in the world to enact a law permitting euthanasia of children, Jessica Saba, 4, of Lachine, Quebec Canada asks the King of Belgium to refuse to sign the legislation. 

"For the sake of the children, please do not sign the Euthanasia Bill," Jessica pleads in this video released on Feb. 2, 2014.

Jessica was born in Montreal, Canada in May 2009 with a severe cardiac malformation: a completely blocked valve and underdeveloped ventricle. She would have survived for only a few hours or days without a series of cardiac interventions, which were performed at Montreal's Children's Hospital. At six days, her valve was unblocked and gradually her underdeveloped ventricle began to form. If Jessica had been born in a country where pediatric euthanasia is permitted, she might have been a candidate for euthanasia and her story would be very different than the one in this video.

Millions of children are born each year with severe congenital malformations. Like Jessica, many of them would be candidates for euthanasia. If euthanasia is legalized in Belgium, there is a danger the precedent could lead to the extension of pediatric euthanasia worldwide. Currently in Quebec, the government is attempting to pass its own euthanasia law, which is very similar to the law passed in Belgium about 10 years ago. The Quebec Human Rights Commission is recommending extension of euthanasia to children.

Dr Paul Saba, a family physician in Lachine, Quebec and the father of Jessica, also makes a personal appeal to the King not to sign the law extending euthanasia to Belgian children. He notes that euthanasia started in Belgium for those suffering physically and now has been expanded to those who are suffering mentally. It began with adults and is now being extended to children.

He also argues that there is no need for anyone to suffer who has excellent medical care. For those who are at the end of life, good palliative care will stop all physical suffering. Those who claim that family members have suffered at the end of life, did not witness good palliative care being provided.

Jessica's mother Marisa shares the struggles and joys of Jessica and warns that a pediatric euthanasia law might encourage parents of sick or handicapped children "to give up too early." What parents and children need is to be surrounded with love and support for life and not euthanasia.Jessica's older sister Eliana and brother John-Anthony also talk about their sister.

American College of Pediatricians blasts Belgium for legalizing child euthanasia

Their hard-hitting statement included:

Physicians are healers not killers. An individual’s future quality of life cannot be predicted by caregivers. The role of the physician is to promote health, cure when possible, and relieve pain and suffering as part of the care they provide. The intentional neglect for, or taking of, a human life is never acceptable, regardless of health system mandates. The killing of infants and children can never be endorsed by the American College of Pediatricians and should never be endorsed by any other ethical medical or social entity.

Read more here...

Cancer specialist expresses doubts about the law

Prof Stefaan Van Gool, a child cancer specialist in Belgium expresses his doubts about the recent extension of the law in Belgium to permit euthanasia in children with no lower age limit.Professor Van Gool is paediatric neuro-oncologist at the University Hospital Leuven and full professor at KU Leuven. He is also senior clinical investigator of the Fund for Scientific Research. He is chair of the laboratory of pediatric immunology.

The interview is one of three that took place on 1 November 2014 at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre conference: "Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Lessons from Belgium" (Open report here...)

Prof Raphael Cohen-Almagor speaks 

Euthanasia for people 'tired of life': Prof Raphael Cohen-Almagor, who has conducted extensive research on euthanasia in the Netherlands and in Belgium, raises concerns about further expansion of the practice in Belgium.

Dr. Benoit Beuselinck, Belgian Cancer Specialist 

The impact of euthanasia in practice: Dr Benoit Beuselinck, a cancer specialist in Belgium, relates his experience of the application of the euthanasia law in Belgium and his concerns about further changes in the future.

Dr Beuselinck trained as a Medical Oncologist in Leuven (Belgium) and in Paris. He currently works at the Department of General Medical Oncology at the University Hospitals Leuven, which is the largest specialist cancer centre in Belgium. The interview is one of three that took place on 1 November 2014 at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre conference: "Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Lessons from Belgium" (Open the report here...)

Euthanasia now spreads to persons who want to die due to Psychological reasons

As reported in LifeNews in June 2015, the Belgian euthanasia insanity continues with the case of a 24-year-old healthy woman (Laura) who will die by euthanasia this summer for psychological reasons.

The June 19 DeMorgen article by Simone Maas explains (google translated):
She has good friends, loves good coffee and theater. And she has felt that she wanted to die ever since childhood. Laura (24): “Life, that’s not for me.” This summer, euthanasia will end her life full of inner conflict, depression and self-destruction.

I met the West Flemish Laura at the presentation of the book ‘Libera me’ euthanasia for psychological reasons. Writer Lieve Thienpont is one of the psychiatrists who gave Laura a positive opinion for euthanasia.

Euthanasia for psychological reasons is done when a psychiatrist agrees that the psychological pain that a person is experiencing cannot be relieved in a way that the individual finds acceptable.

That means, Laura may be treatable, but Laura has decided that the only acceptable “treatment” is death. Laura has been approved for lethal injection, even though she is physically healthy and only 24-years-old.In March, the chairman of the federal euthanasia commission in Belgium admitted that 50 to 60 euthanasia deaths are done on psychiatric patients each year.

There has never been an attempted prosecution for abuse of the euthanasia law in Belgium.