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7 February 2006
BRUSSELS — Belgian doctors reported almost 400 cases of euthanasia to the nation's supervision and evaluation commission last year.
Since euthanasia was legalised in Belgium in 2002, the annual number of mercy killings reported by doctors has risen from 200 to almost 400.
However, Brussels Free University academic Wim Distelmans said the actual number of euthanasia cases is about five times higher than official figures.
The rise in the number of reported euthanasia cases is due largely to Flemish doctors, with 80 percent of mercy killings registered in Flanders.
Distelmans said this is because Flemish doctors have the support of a good network, namely the Life Ending Information Forum.
Belgium was the second country in the world to legalise euthanasia, following the Netherlands which amended its laws in 2001.
Patients wishing to end their own lives must be conscious when they lodge a request and repeat the demand.
They must be under "constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain" resulting from an accident or incurable illness.
Every mercy killing case has to be filed at a special commission to decide if the doctors followed regulations. Minors cannot seek assistance to die.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news
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