Belgium – UN Human Rights Council criticized Belgium’s euthanasia law
Since Belgium legalized Euthanasia in 2002, the country has experienced a hundredfold increase in registered euthanasia deaths. In February 2014, the law expanded to enable doctors to end the lives of children of any age. In 2017, almost 20% of deaths by euthanasia in Belgium involved patients displaying symptoms common with aging. In May this year, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland challenged Belgium on the human rights implications of its euthanasia law with various states urging the government to improve treatment of the elderly and of persons with disabilities. Not only does the European Court of Human Rights challenge Belgium on its euthanasia law but also now pending another case before Europe’s top court in the Tom Mortier case.
The case, which now sits before the top European court, has the potential to set a precedent for euthanasia laws across Europe. The Court’s decision could affect more than 820 million Europeans across the 47 Council of Europe Member States subject to its rulings.
The World Medical Association has consistently rejected the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide as being unethical. The act has long been associated with discriminatory attitudes against those who are elderly or disabled.
“The slippery slope is on full public display in Belgium, and we see the tragic consequences in this case. According to the most recent government report, more than six people per day are euthanized in this way, and that may yet be the tip of the iceberg. The figures expose the truth that, once these laws are passed, the impact of euthanasia cannot be controlled. Belgium has set itself on a trajectory that, at best, implicitly tells the most vulnerable that their lives are not worth living,” said Robert Clarke, Deputy Director of Advocacy for ADF International, who represents Tom Mortier before the Court. Article, More on Tom Mortier case.
Belgium – Anthology of behind-the-scenes observations from professionals
The Springer website, publisher of many medical journals has released a downloadable copy: Searching for the Full Story: Experiences and Insights of Belgian Doctors and Nurses. Euthanasia, though legal in Belgium, is opposed by some healthcare professionals. This collection of essays contains insights and thought provoking stories from the authors’ professional experience. The testimonies reported in this book of professionals do not believe that euthanasia can be a medical or a caring act, neither can it be a neutral option. In essence, euthanasia does not complement palliative care, it ends it; it is not the pinnacle of care and support for the patient, it discontinues it; it does not relieve the patients, it takes their lives. This open access book has been written by ten Belgian health care professionals, nurses, university professors and doctors specializing in palliative care and ethicists who fear that euthanasia have become normalised and trivial. More
USA – Euthanasia expands to telehealth
During the Covid-19 pandemic telehealth was initiated and now a new bill is before the US Senate seeking to extend the use of telehealth. The 2019 New Mexico bill and the 2020 Hawaii bill included such provisions so this is nothing new. This would mean that a person with difficult health issues who feels like a burden on others, or is experiencing depression or distress, could commit suicide by telehealth without ever seeing a physician. People with unidentified psychological issues or suicidal ideation is of concern as well. A 2016 study published in the British Medical Journal showed that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US, euthanasia by telehealth is expected to exasperate the problem. More, more