Belgium euthanizes people without consent

After passing the Euthanasia Act, Belgium does not seem to bother with patient's consent to the drugs.

Despite required consent of the patient to the life-ending medicines, most of the cases are passed without such approval.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, a professor of philosophy and ethics at the United Kingdom's Hull University revealed that life-ending drugs were used "with the intention to shorten life and without explicit request" in 1.7 percent of all deaths in Belgium in 2013.

In 52.7 percent of these cases, the patients were 80 years of age or older. The decision to euthanize was not discussed with the patient in 77.9 percent of the cases because he/she was comatose, had dementia, or "because discussion would have been harmful to the patient's best interest," according to the study.

Belgium made euthanasia legal in 2002.

"At the heart of this legislation is the free will of the patient who asks for euthanasia," Cohen-Almagor noted. "It is worrying that some physicians take upon themselves the responsibility to deliberately shorten patients' lives without a clear indication from the patients that this is what they would want."

According to the law, the patient must request euthanasia, and such a request must be "voluntary, well-considered, and repeated and...not the result of any external pressure." The patient must also be "an adult or an emancipated minor, capable and conscious at the time of his/her request."

Also read: European human rights body speaks against euthanasia


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Author`s name Editorial Team