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Published On: Sun, Mar 15th, 2020

New Report: Belgium euthanized 12% more people in 2019, over 2500, including one child

A 2019 Belgian euthanasia report has been released, showing that 2,655 people died from euthanasia last year, an increase of 12.5% from 2018, including dozens of people with disabilities and one child.

Wim Distelmans, chairman of the Euthanasia Commission, tried to explain why there was an increase.

“The euthanasia law has become more and more known to the population, more doctors may be willing to answer that question,” he said. “We are also growing up as a first generation over 80. People are getting older, often with ailments and conditions they don’t want to experience to the bitter end.”

Most people requesting euthanasia had cancer, with the second highest reason being “serious and incurable conditions.”

According to Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, these numbers are a huge increase from when euthanasia was first legalized in Belgium.

“In 2010 there were 954 reported assisted deaths representing a 278% increase in 9 years,” he said. “In 2019 one child died by euthanasia. I have not seen the 2019 data on euthanasia for mental or psychiatric reasons but in 2018 there were 57 (2.4%) of 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.”

photo/ Gerd Altmann via pixabay

A 2019 Belgian euthanasia report has been released, showing that 2,655 people died from euthanasia last year — an increase of 12.5% from 2018 — including dozens of people with disabilities and one child.

Wim Distelmans, chairman of the Euthanasia Commission, tried to explain why there was an increase. “The euthanasia law has become more and more known to the population, more doctors may be willing to answer that question,” he said. “We are also growing up as a first generation over 80. People are getting older, often with ailments and conditions they don’t want to experience to the bitter end.”

Most people requesting euthanasia had cancer, with the second highest reason being “serious and incurable conditions.”

According to Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, these numbers are a huge increase from when euthanasia was first legalized in Belgium. “In 2010 there were 954 reported assisted deaths representing a 278% increase in 9 years,” he said. “In 2019 one child died by euthanasia. I have not seen the 2019 data on euthanasia for mental or psychiatric reasons but in 2018 there were 57 (2.4%) of 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.”

Belgian politicians are currently considering expanding euthanasia to those who aren’t sick, but merely feel that their life is “complete,” essentially encouraging suicide for healthy people. “Legislation must evolve over time. A few years ago, after an important debate, we also made euthanasia possible for competent minors,” Gwendolyn Rutten, a Belgian politician, wrote in an op-ed last year. “[W]hen your life is ‘finished’, you must be able to put an end to it if you ask for it yourself, explicitly, voluntarily, independently and sustainably.”

Some notable cases included twin brothers who were going blind, and a transgender man who felt he had become a “monster.” Distelmans, the man in charge of the Euthanasia Commission, himself has come under controversy, after taking an “inspirational” tour of Auschwitz.

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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