- BREAKING NEWS - The Belgian Constitutional Court rejects the appeal relating to the 2020 law on euthanasia
- Euthanasia and assisted suicideIn a judgment published on Thursday February 17, 2022, the Constitutional Court of Belgium rejects the action for annulment of the law of 15 March 2020 amending the legislation on euthanasia.
Of the three amendments introduced by the law, the Court considers that two of them are not contrary to the Constitution. As regards the third provision, relating to the infringement of the freedom of healthcare institutions which do not practise euthanasia, the Court refuses to examine the appeal, declaring it inadmissible.
As a reminder, the law passed in 2020 first provides that 'no written or unwritten clause can prevent a doctor from performing euthanasia'. This provision aims to de facto prohibit retirement homes or hospitals whose care project excludes the fact of ending the life of their residents or patients by euthanasia, and which favor accompaniment through palliative care. The applicant citizens, as well as the European Institute of Bioethics, the intervener in the a...
- Medical researchAt a time of accelerated development of vaccines against Covid-19, being well-informed is important, especially regarding the ethics of how these vaccines are developed and then produced and tested. The potential use of aborted fetuses' cell lines at any stage of the process is key for the ethical discernment. The Charlotte Lozier Institute in the United States has published, on the basis of a rigorous analysis of the scientific literature and the results of clinical trials, a detailed report of pharmaceutical companies that do or do not use such ethically controversial cell lines. The aim is to help the reader make informed choices regarding vaccines against the Coronavirus.
Let us first recall what a fetal cell line consists in. It is obtained by taking a cell from a fetus (in this case, aborted) and multiplying it into several identical cells. These cells can be grown and multiplied for several decades, creating "cell lines", which are often used in scientific experiments. Some ...
- AbortionIn plenary session in Brussels on Thursday June 24, the European Parliament adopted (378 votes in favor; 255 against; 42 abstentions) the resolution and report "On the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women's health".
Proposed by Croatian MEP Predrag Fred Matić, this controversial resolution considers in particular the issue of abortion in unqualified terms, demanding "safe and legal access to abortion based on women's health and rights", while overlooking the other dimensions of pregnancy and motherhood, both from the point of view of the development of the unborn child and the support for the parenthood.
More broadly, with the expression "reproductive and sexual rights", the resolution calls on the European Union (EU) Member States to guarantee access to: "comprehensive sexual education; modern contraceptive methods; care during childbirth and the pre- and post-natal periods; obstetric care; new-born care; services providing safe...
- Euthanasia and assisted suicideA recent study has brought to light the practice of deliberate euthanasia to new-borns for whom the medical team considered that there was "no hope of a bearable future". These practices concerned 10% of the neonates (0-1 year) who died in Flanders, between September 2016 and December 2017 (i. e., 24 babies).
This practice is illegal in Belgium, yet no authority seems to take offense. The law only allows the euthanasia of a minor if he or she is capable of discernment and conscious at the time of the request for euthanasia.
In her thesis, which served as the basis for the study in question, Laure Dombrecht, researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), refers to a similar study conducted in 1999-2000. The proportion of euthanasia to new-borns by injection of lethal substances has increased from 7 to 10% since this previous survey.
Among what is considered as "end-of-life medical decisions" involving 61% of these babies, the study distinguishes between decisions not to sta...
- The new Spanish law on euthanasia contested against the Constitutional Court a few days before its entry into force
- Euthanasia and assisted suicideFriday June 25 is the stipulated date for the Spanish new law on euthanasia entry into force, exactly three months after its approval and publication in the Spanish Official Gazette (Boletín Oficial del Estado). With this law (Ley Orgánica 3/2021), Spain becomes the eighth country in the world legalizing both physician-assisted suicide and active euthanasia, following the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Canada, Colombia, New Zealand, and some states in Australia.
The law recognizes a new right, the right to euthanasia, which, according to the law, consists in the death of a person caused in a direct and intentional manner after the informed, explicit, and repeated request of that person, in a context of suffering caused by an incurable illness and which is conceived by the person as intolerable. The text of the law tries to ground this new right on other constitutional rights, such as the right to life, the right to physical integrity, the right to human dignity and the right to a...
- Embryo researchDuring the last four decades, a period of 14 days was officially accepted as the ethical and legal limit on human embryo research. In other words, scientists were not allowed to pursue research on embryos beyond the fourteenth day after their fertilisation or after their unfreezing if they were previously frozen. This limit was recommended for the first time by the 1984 Report of the UK governmental Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, also named after the Committee chair as the Warnock Report.
The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) dropped this limit in their revised Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation published last May. This American non-profit organization was founded in 2002 with the mission of promoting and guiding the stem cell science and is now a worldwide valued and influential organism.
In the present Guidelines, the organization provides recommendations for a significant number of issues. Regarding the...
- Euthanasia and assisted suicideThe European Institute of Bioethics (EIB) has published a report (available in French and Dutch) on the 2020 Belgian euthanasia report indicating that the number of reported assisted deaths increased by 12.6% in 2019 to 2656. The 2019 Belgian euthanasia report, indicated that there were 2357 reported assisted deaths in 2018. There were 954 reported assisted deaths in 2010 representing a 267% increase in 9 years.
The Belgian euthanasia commission admits that it "does not have the possibility of evaluating the proportion of the number of euthanasia's declared in relation to the number of euthanasia's actually carried out."
A NEJM study examining 2013 Belgian deaths and euthanasia commission data concluded that almost half of the euthanasia deaths in 2013 were not reported to the commission.
The same NEJM study also concluded that more than 1000 deaths (1.7%) were hastened without explicit request in 2013.
The 2020 Belgium euthanasia data states that 57 people died by e...
Position of the WORLD MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WMA) on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide – Chronological overview (1987-2019)
- Euthanasia and assisted suicideIn October 2019, the World Medical Association1 (WMA) adopted a declaration on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. This new declaration is an opportunity to analyze the documents successively adopted by the WMA on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in recent years, and to identify possible evolutions in this area. This Expert Flash reviews each of the relevant documents, and compares the terms used and positions adopted. It emerges that, while terms slightly vary, WMA's position remains stable and consistent in its opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide from a medical ethics perspective.
- Death by Request in Switzerland: Post-traumatic stress disorder and complicated grief after witnessing assisted suicide
- Mental HealthA study conducted in Switzerland in December 2007 among 85 family members and friends who were present at an assisted suicide showed higher prevalence of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and complicated grief after witnessing assisted suicide than following a natural death. Switzerland is one of the few nations in which assisted suicide is legal. It is generally defined as the prescribing or supplying of drugs with the explicit intention of enabling the patient to end his or her own life. Despite the ongoing debate about assisted suicide, little research has been done on the impact on the loved ones of the dead. The study was conducted in cooperation with Exit Deutsche Schweiz, an organization that facilitates with assisted suicides. The loved ones contacted were found through the organization.
The trauma after witnessing an assisted suicide varies significantly from natural death or suicide. According to the study, this is because it often allows for the opportunity to say ...
- Mental HealthThe senior population in the United States is growing, and as such, so is the number of cases of dementia. When a person has dementia, they experience the progressive impairment of cognitive facilities, including memory, problem solving and language. There is no cure yet for dementia and there is no effective way to halt its progression. As the condition progresses, the affected person requires daily assistance and eventually total care. Because dementia causes a loss of many cognitive capabilities, loss of ability to make decisions has caused discussion surrounding end-of-life and dementia. The Hastings Center, based in Garrison, New York, is going to conduct research into end-of-life practices for patients with dementia.
In the United States, a person has the right to refuse treatment. In most cases, this person must be able to make this decision on their own. People who have received a diagnosis of a degenerative disease, such as dementia, and who will lose their decision-making...