Euthanasia without consent continues in Belgium

Via National Right to Life:

A leading academic has published a stinging critique of how Belgium administers its euthanasia law. Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Rafael Cohen-Almagor, an Israeli professor of politics at the University of Hull, says that Belgians should be alarmed by the deliberate shortening of lives of some patients without their explicit voluntary request.

Consent is supposed to be a cornerstone of Belgium’s euthanasia act, but Cohen-Almagor, after surveying reports and articles, believes that the number of patients who are killed outside of the law is disturbing. “Ending patients’ lives without request is more common than [voluntary] euthanasia,” he says. He urges the Belgian medical profession to place reform high on their agenda.

Euthanasia has taken root in the culture of Belgium, he observes. Support for euthanasia among doctors is over 90%. “Social and peer pressure makes it difficult for those who oppose euthanasia to uphold their position in the liberal culture that has been developing,” he says. About 90% of the public also support it.

In this atmosphere, consent seems to have become optional for a particularly vulnerable group, “80-year-old patients or older who were mostly in coma or suffered from dementia.” Killing them is clearly against the law, but Belgian physicians are ignoring its letter and observing its spirit – as they interpret it.