Alex Schadenberg compares the Quebec Bill 52 with the Belgian euthanasia laws:
By Alex Schadenberg,
Executive Director / International Chair
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
The Québec government recently passed Bill 52, at second reading, a bill that would decriminalize euthanasia. The Québec government is currently debating amendments to Bill 52 and it is expected that Bill 52 will go to a final vote early in 2014. For more information on Bill 52 read: Québec's Bill 52 is not safe.
The Québec government based Bill 52 on the Belgian euthanasia law. The Quebec government Dying with Dignity Committee stated that there is no evidence, in Belgium, of abuse or a "slippery slope" concerning euthanasia in Belgium.
Yet, on November 13, 2013, I debated, in Brussels, Dr Bernheim, a long-time euthanasia promoter in Belgium. After presenting the facts that are contained within this article, he stated: "There are problems with the Belgian euthanasia law."
Assisted deaths without request.
A study that was published in the (CMAJ June, 2010) found that 32% of all assisted deaths in the Flemish region of Belgium are done without explicit request. A similar study that was published in the (CMAJ June, 2010) found that 45% of euthanasia deaths involving nurses in Belgium were done without explicit request.
The study found that the demographic group that was most likely to die by an assisted death without request was someone who was over the age of 80, who was incapable of consenting, had an unpredictable end-of-life trajectory and died in the hospital. The first study concluded that the findings:
"fits the description of a vulnerable patient group at risk of life-ending without request."
Belgian nurses euthanize patients.
The Belgian euthanasia law specifically limits the act of euthanasia to physicians. A study that was published in the (CMAJ June, 2010) found that when nurses were involved with the euthanasia death the lethal dose was injected by the nurse 12% of the time. The study indicated that in 12 cases the doctor was not present at the time of injection and twice, the nurse did not consult the physician. All of these acts are technically illegal in Belgium.
There has never been an attempted prosecution for abuses of the Belgian euthanasia law.
The under-reporting of euthanasia.
A study that was published in the (BMJ Oct 2010) concluded that euthanasia deaths are significantly under-reported in the Flemish region of Belgium. The study found that only 52.8% of assisted deaths in the Flemish region of Belgium were reported. That means that 47.2% of all assisted deaths were not reported.
Many people claim that the Belgian euthanasia law is controlled and yet the data indicates that many euthanasia deaths are never reported.
The growth of euthanasia in Belgium.
Belgian government statistics indicate that the number of reported assisted deaths increased from 1133 in 2011 to 1432 in 2012, representing a 25% increase over the previous year and 2% of all deaths in Belgium. The number of reported assisted deaths in 2010 was 954. It is important to note that these statistics do not include the unreported assisted deaths.
Data indicates that many assisted deaths are being done without request and are not reported. This proves that the actual practice of euthanasia is not accurately represented in the Belgium government report.
Euthanasia requests are rarely refused.
A study that was published in November 2011 found that only 5% of euthanasia deaths are refused in Belgium, compared to a 12% refusal rate in the Netherlands. The study stated that: "Unfortunately we have no information on the reasons why the attending physicians from our study refused to grant requests."
Belgium euthanasia control and evaluation commission is biased.
Dr Wim Distelman, who is the co-chair of the Belgian euthanasia commission, is also operates a euthanasia clinic that has become known for doing controversial euthanasia deaths.
This year, in January; it was reported that Belgian identical twins, Marc and Eddy Verbessem, were euthanized, with the approval of Distelmans, because they feared becoming blind.
In February it was reported that a woman with Anorexia Nervosa died by euthanasia.
In February, Tom Mortier wrote an article about the euthanasia death of his depressed mother by Distelmans in April 2012. Mortier stated:
The death of my mother has triggered a lot of questions. How is it possible that people can be euthanised in Belgium without close family or friends being contacted? Why does my country give medical doctors the exclusive power to decide over life and death? ... What are the criteria to decide what “unbearable suffering” is? Can we rely on such a judgment for a mentally ill person?
In September, a person, who was not physically ill, died by euthanasia after a botched sex-change operation.
Expansion of criteria for euthanasia.
The Belgium government is currently debating the expansion of euthanasia to include teenagers, infants, children with disabilities and people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The main reason for expanding the criteria for euthanasia in Belgium is that doctors want to change the law because they are breaking the law already.
The statement that euthanasia in Belgium has not experienced an expansion, or a slippery slope, is obviously false. The Belgium euthanasia law has undergone a series of incremental extensions from turning a blind eye to acts that were originally considered unacceptable, to expanding the definition for psychological suffering to expanding euthanasia to include children with questionable consent to allowing euthanasia for people with dementia who cannot consent.
Quebec euthanasia bill (Bill 52) is not safe.
The Belgian people should be very concerned that those who are incompetent and/or depressed are dying by euthanasia and very few requests for euthanasia are rejected.
The Quebec government will be debating Bill 52, a bill that will legalize euthanasia as a form of medical treatment. Bill 52 is based on the Belgian euthanasia law.
Learn more about the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Belgium and the Netherlands by buying the book: Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Exposing Vulnerable People examines the data from recent studies and publishes the facts that the media is not willing to publish and that the euthanasia lobby ignore.