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Euthanasia Policy and practice in Belgium

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[English] 06/06/2009
Auteur / source : Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Critical Observations and Suggestions for Improvement  

 

ABSTRACT: The essay opens with some background information about the context of euthanasia in Belgium. It proceeds by discussing the Belgian law on euthanasia and concerns about the law, its interpretations and implementation. Finally, the major developments and controversies since the law came into effect are discussed. Suggestions as to how to improve the Belgian law and circumscribe the practice of euthanasia are made, urging Belgian legislators and the medical establishment to refl ect and study so as to prevent potential abuse of vulnerable patients.

 
This article investigates and discusses the practice of euthanasia in Belgium. Its methodology is based on critical review of the literature supplemented by interviews I conducted in Belgium with leading scholars and practitioners in February 2003 and February 2005. The interviews were conducted in English, usually in the interviewees’ offi ces. The interviews were semi-structured. I began with a list of twenty-four questions (see Appendix), but did not insist on answers to all of them if I saw that the interviewee preferred to speak about subjects that were not included in the original questionnaire. The length of interviews varied from one to two and a half hours.