Wednesday, March 3, 2021

2020 Belgian euthanasia report. Covid-19 had a minor effect on the number of deaths.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alan Hope reported for the The Brussels Times, that the COVID-19 pandemic had little effect on the number of reported euthanasia deaths in 2020. According to the report, there were 2444 reported Belgian euthanasia deaths in 2020 which was down from 2656 in 2019 but up from 2357 in 2018.

According to the report, the number of euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons also dropped from 26 in 2019 to 21 in 2020 which is a significant drop from 57 in 2018.

According to the report, Wim Distelmans, the chair of the euthanasia commission suggested that some people who are not terminally ill but were approved for euthanasia based on polypathology postponed their death by lethal injection to have the opportunity to say farewell to friends and family.

Hope suggests in the article that the dip in euthanasia deaths may have been related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I suggest that it was connected to the recent controversial court cases dealing with euthanasia for psychiatric reasons.

For instance, in 2019 Europe's top human rights court, in agreed to hear the case of a depressed Belgian woman who died by euthanasia and in 2018 three Belgian doctors were charged in a euthanasia death for psychiatric reasons.

The three doctors were acquitted in the euthanasia death, but in September 2020 a retrial was ordered for one of the doctors in the case

Ludo Vanopdenbosch
In 2017, Dr Ludo Vanopdenbosch, a palliative care specialist, resigned from the Belgian euthanasia commission after the commission approved the death of a woman who could not consent to euthanasia. Vanopdenbosch explained in his resignation letter that:

The most striking example took place at a meeting in early September, ... when the group discussed the case of a patient with severe dementia, who also had  Parkinson's disease. To demonstrate the patient's lack of competence, a video was played showing what Vanopdenbosch characterized as "a deeply demented patient."  
The patient, whose identity was not disclosed, was euthanized at the family's request... There was no record of any prior request for euthanasia from the patient.
An Associated Press report, revealed a rift between Wim Distelmans, chair of the euthanasia commission, and Dr. Lieve Thienpont, the psychiatrist who does the most euthanasia's for psychiatric reasons. Distelmans suggested that some of Thienpont's patients might have been killed without meeting all of the legal requirements. After the AP report, more than 360 doctors, academics and others signed a petition calling for tighter controls on euthanasia for psychiatric patients.

I hope that the Belgian people will come to realize how crazy the euthanasia ideology is and recognize the social and human destruction that euthanasia causes.

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