Alex Schadenberg Blog 18 March 2015
Contrary to the recent Supreme Court decision striking down Canada’s laws that protect people from assisted death, in Belgium, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002, a significant number people are being killed without request. In fact a recent study showed that 1.7% of all deaths in 2013 in Belgium were intentionally acts to cause death without request. A similar study in 2007 indicated that 1.8% of all deaths were hastened without explicit request, no change.
Yesterday I wrote an article about the new study that was published in the NEJM on March 17, 2015 on the experience with euthanasia in the Flanders region of Belgium. The Belgian study was done by sending questionnaires to the physician who certified a death certificate in 6188 deaths in the first half of 2013. The data indicated that euthanasia represented 4.6% of all deaths and assisted suicide represented .05% of all deaths.
The Supreme Court of Canada assisted dying decision last month stated that abuse of euthanasia laws are anecdotal, but the previous Belgian study in 2007 stated that 1.8% of all deaths were hastened without explicit consent and the new Belgian study stated that 1.7% of all deaths were hastened without explicit consent in 2013.
The Associated Press article interviewed Belgian ethicist Freddy Mortier. The article stated
Mortier was not happy, however, that the ‘hastening of death without explicit request from patients,’ which can happen when a patient slumbers into unconsciousness or has lost the capacity for rational judgment, stood at 1.7 percent of cases in 2013. In the Netherlands, that figure was 0.2 percent.
Therefore almost 1000 Belgian deaths are hastened without explicit request each year. People need to recognize that euthanasia or assisted suicide laws will be abused.