400 Belgian euthanasia cases in two years
9 July 2004, BRUSSELS – Some 400 cases of euthanasia have been recorded in Belgium since the country legalised the practice two years ago, it has been reported.
9 July 2004
BRUSSELS – Some 400 cases of euthanasia have been recorded in Belgium since the country legalised the practice two years ago, it has been reported.
According to official statistics made public on Friday, between 23 September 2002 and 1 January 2004 doctors made 259 official declarations that they had helped terminally ill people to die with dignity.
Several experts added that more cases have been recorded since the beginning of this year and that the current total stands at around 400.
Medical experts seemed to agree on Friday that the figures show Belgium's controversial euthanasia law has been a success.
They argued that the number of 'mercy killings' carried out in Belgium had actually remained relatively constant and that the main difference since the new law was passed was that, doctors no longer had to carry out illegally a service that some of their terminally ill patients requested.
Belgium's law on euthanasia lays down very strict guidelines for how mercy killings should be carried out.
A doctor can only help a patient to die if that person has asked," voluntarily and repeatedly," and has "thought deeply" about what they are asking.
People wanting to die with dignity must also be in full control of their mental faculties, in other words be fully aware what they are asking and they must have bee put under no external pressure to decide to end their lives.
Subject: Belgian news