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Euthanasie Stop > Foreigners do not understand us

Foreigners do not understand us

Ingediend op 04/08/2015 om 10.32 uur  Categorie Mening van de burger

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Michael Cook Michael Cook

by Raphael Cohen-Almagor (published in

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, of the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, is a world expert on euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium. He recently contributed an article to the JOurnal of Medical Ethics on one of the most worrying aspects of the euthanasia in Belgium—the deliberate shortening of lives of some patients without their explicit voluntary request. In this interview with BioEdge, he explains some of his concerns.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor: Studies have shown a constant increase in registered euthanasia cases, predominantly in the Flemish (the Dutch-Flemish speaking part) of Belgium. Approximately one of seven terminally ill patients dying at home under the care of a general practitioner (GP) expresses a euthanasia request in the last phase of life. The annual figures are constantly rising: 235 in 2003; 495 in 2007; 704 in 2008, and 1,133 in 2011. In 2012, there were 1,432 cases and in 2013, 1,807 euthanasia cases were reported.

Are you sure about the statistics? The trends are confusing. You observe that in 2007 the use of life-ending drugs with the intention to shorten life and without explicit request occurred in 1.8% of deaths but in 2013 it was 1.7% of deaths. So contrary to what you have said, the situation seems to be improving, not getting worse, isn't it?

Research has shown that in 2007 the use of life-ending drugs with the intention to shorten life and without explicit request occurred in 1.8% of deaths and that in 2013 it was 1.7% of deaths. This is a slight improvement.

However, the overall situation is worrying. The enactment of the Euthanasia Act in 2002 was followed by an increase in almost all types of medical end-of-life practices: euthanasia, intensified alleviation of pain, withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment, and continuous and deep sedation until death. The latter practice is especially worrying: In 2007, 14.5% of all deaths in Flanders were the result of continuous deep sedation until death. This is a significant increase compared to the number of cases, 8.2%, six years earlier.

When the Euthanasia Act was legislated, it was designated mainly for competent adults, capable and conscious at the time of their euthanasia request. Evidence has shown that now euthanasia has been stretched to incompetent patients, demented patients, psychiatric patients as well as to patients who are said to be "tired of life".

Furthermore, in February 2014, the Belgian parliament voted to extend the euthanasia law to cover children under the age of 18. The law sanctions euthanasia for children with terminal or incurable conditions who are near death, suffering "constant and unbearable pain", and whose parents and health professionals agree with the decision.

Thus the scope of end-of-life practices has been enlarged far beyond the good intentions of the legislature in 2002.

How do doctors justify involuntary euthanasia? On the basis of relieving suffering? Of saving money? Of sparing the feelings of relatives?

I have raised the question of ...

(see Bioedge : HERE

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