Thursday, October 22, 2020

Report: Concerns about euthanasia in Belgium.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A broadcast from September 30 examines concerns about euthanasia in Belgium. The broadcast in Dutch (Link to the broadcast) examines several euthanasia stories while interviewing a member of the Belgium euthanasia Commission and a well-known researcher concerning the Belgium euthanasia law.

The European Institute of Bioethics reports:

(Concerns about euthanasia) is indicative of the growing unease that reigns in Belgium with regard to euthanasia. Misunderstandings on the part of patients, discomfort of doctors faced with the demands of their patients, disobedience of the law, suffering of families, ... This podcast of about thirty minutes plunges the viewer into the heart of the world of euthanasia, world at the same time bureaucracy of the Commission responsible for controlling euthanasia, and a world full of emotion in the face of the suffering of patients who testify.
The European Institute of Bioethics (Google translated) reports that the broadcast interviews Nancy and Ruth:
Nancy, who is 48 years old and suffers from several pathologies: asthma, weakened immunity, brain tumors… requested euthanasia 4 years ago, but does not meet the criteria for an incurable and hopeless disease. The podcast also gives voice to Ruth, 28, who has suffered from severe psychiatric conditions since being sexually abused at the age of 5.
The broadcast interviews Dr Luc Proot, a long-time member of the Committee who is concerned about the increase in euthanasia deaths. The European Institute of Bioethics reports (Google translated):
The a posteriori control, that is to say once the person has already been euthanized by the doctor. According to Dr Luc Proot, member of the Commission, an a priori check would take too long and would lead to a much lower number of euthanasies ... He is nevertheless worried about the meteoric increase in the number of cases (2,655 in 2019 , ten times more than in 2003). The Commission must process more than 200 euthanasies at each of its monthly meetings, in one evening. “If we reach three or four thousand cases per year, we will no longer be able to do the job,” he says.
The broadcast interviews Belgian euthanasia researcher, Sigrid Sterckx. The European Bioethics Institute reports (Google Translated):

Sigrid Sterckx, professor of ethics at the University of Ghent, assesses at least 1/3 euthanasia not declared to the Commission in Flanders. She drew attention to the lack of transparency in the work of the Commission. Over the course of the report, we learn that the medical members are sometimes called upon to vote on their own euthanasia files. They are then not supposed to take part in the discussion, but must not withdraw when their files are analyzed. These are anonymous, but the members of the Commission often recognize the handwriting of their colleague ... It takes at least 2/3 of the votes to send a file to the Public Prosecutor. This quorum was not reached in the case of a doctor who had given a lethal drink to a lady no longer wishing to live after the death of her daughter. For Dr Proot, this quorum is “too severe.”
It is important that Sterckx upholds the truth, that studies prove least 1/3 of the euthanasia deaths are not declared to the Commission and since the Belgian Euthanasia Commission requires 2/3 of the members to demand an investigation before it is done. The one comment that is missing is the fact that Dr Wim Distelmans both operates the euthanasia clinic and chairs the Euthanasia Commission.

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