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Opinion

Belgium’s assisted suicide rate has increased 247 percent since 2010

Alex Schadenberg Alex Schadenberg Follow Alex

March 4, 2019 (Euthanasia Prevention Coalition) — The 2018 Belgian euthanasia report, released on February 28, indicates that in 2018 there were 2,357 reported assisted deaths, up from 2,309. The report suggests that the number of deaths are stable. There were 954 reported assisted deaths in 2010 representing a 247% increase in 8 years.

Belgian 2017 euthanasia report. Deaths continue to increase and children are dying by euthanasia.


Tine Neys (center) died by euthanasia in 2010.

The slowed growth in euthanasia deaths is likely based on the courts agreeing to examine some of the most controversial cases. For instance, Europe's top human rights court, in January agreed to hear the case of a depressed Belgian woman who died by euthanasia and last November three Belgian doctors were charged in the euthanasia death for psychiatric reasons.

Since 2010, Belgium has extended the law and expanded the reasons that it approves euthanasia by re-interpreting the law.

In 2018 there were 57 (2.4%) deaths for mental or behavioral conditions, 83 (3.5%) for psychiatric reasons alone and 1% of the reported deaths were incompetent people who had made a previous request. There were children who were reported to die by euthanasia in 2018.

There may be many more assisted deaths in Belgium.

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (March 19, 2015) on the Belgian euthanasia practice found that in 2013:

  • 4.6% of all deaths in the Flanders region were euthanasia.
  • .05% of all deaths in the Flanders region were assisted suicide.
  • 1.7% of all deaths in the Flanders region were hastened without explicit request.

Comparing the data from the 2013 NEJM study to the official 2013 Belgian euthanasia commission data one must conclude that almost half of the euthanasia deaths in 2013 were not reported to the commission.

The NEJM study concluded that 1.7% of all deaths were hastened without explicit request in 2013 representing more than 1000 deaths.

In 2017, Dr Ludo Vanopdenbosch (pictured, right), 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.

The Associated Press revealed a rift between Dr. Wim Distelmans, co-chair of the euthanasia commission, and Dr. Lieve Thienpont, a psychiatrist who is actively doing euthanasia for psychiatric reasons. Distelmans suggested that some of Thienpont's patients might have been killed without meeting all the legal requirements. After the AP report, more than 360 doctors, academics and others have signed a petition calling for tighter controls on euthanasia for psychiatric patients.

I hope that the Belgian people will wake-up and realize how crazy the euthanasia ideology has become and recognize the social and human destruction that euthanasia has caused.

Published with permission from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

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