All studies

Belgium - Belgium : a further extension of euthanasia

- Euthanasia and assisted suicide

Based on texts which have already been submitted during the previous legislature, three further proposals (put forward by Mme Karin Jiroflée et al, sp.A), seeking to modify the law of May 28, 2002 on euthanasia, have just recently been laid before the Chamber of Belgian Deputies, without any specific deadline for their adoption having for the moment been defined.

The first proposal (Doc 54 1013/001) aims to authorize the act of euthanasia for patients who are unable to express their wishes themselves either because the patient is unconscious or in an advanced state due to a non-congenital cerebral condition, which means that they find themselves in the physical or psychological state mentioned in their declaration.

 The second proposal (Doc 54 1014/001) aims to modify the law of May 28, 2002 on euthanasia with regard to the duration of the validity of the pre-existing declaration. While at present such a declaration is valid for a period of 5 years, the authors of the proposal w...

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Belgium - Belgian Euthanasia Increases by 89% in four years.

- Euthanasia and assisted suicide

Belgian Euthanasia Increases by 89% in four years.

The Act of 28 May 2002 concerning euthanasia stipulates that the Federal Committee on Oversight and Enforcement, shall biennially report to the legislature. Here is the sixth report, covering the years 2012-2013.

The report comprises firstly a statistical element, which we note here that the number of reported euthanasia has almost doubled in four years (an increase of 89%), from 953 reported in 2010 to 1,807 in 2013 euthanasia. The Commission considers that this increase is due to the "gradual release of information to the public and physicians." The deaths caused today represent 1.7% of all deaths in Belgium.

More and more people have also asked to be euthanized when their death was not expected in the short term (13% of euthanasia). These figures, however, should probably be revised upward to include some cases of euthanasia practiced, based on early reports of the end of life on irreversibly unconscious people. Indeed, the ...

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Surrogate motherhood : a violation of human rights

- Surrogacy

The commodification of the human body has been drawn into sharp focus over the last several years as issues such as human trafficking for organs and sexual servitude have gained international attention. Unfortunately, another form of trafficking has evaded the same level of attention and outrage of the international community: surrogacy motherhood. Surrogacy motherhood is a commodification of the human person: the child becomes the mere object of a convention, while the surrogate mother is used as an incubator. Such commodification in itself violates the dignity of both the surrogate mother and the child.

 A child born after a surrogacy agreement may have up to six adults claiming parent's rights over him or her: the genetic mother (egg donor), the gestational mother (surrogate), the commissioning mother; the genetic father (sperm donor), the husband of the gestational mother (presumption of paternity) and the commissioning father. The gametes of one or both the commissioning ...

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What’s wrong with assisted dying

What’s wrong with assisted dying

- Euthanasia and assisted suicide

Campaigns in support of assisted dying seem to be predicated on an excessively rosy view of society and the individuals within it, says Iona Heath, writing in a personal capacity.
Support for assisted dying is based on respect for individual autonomy, yet the influence that one person can have on another makes legislation to permit assisted dying intrinsically risky.

The author is the president of the Royal College of General Practitioners, UK.

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"Wrongful birth" : liability an indemnification

"Wrongful birth" : liability an indemnification

- Abortion

This article is dated 1998. We thank the author for authorising us to publish it.

1.           Both the Netherlands' Hoge Raad ("HR") and Germany's Bundesverfassungsgericht ("BVerfG") (Erster Senat) rendered in 1997 judgments concerning "wrongful birth" claims.
In the Dutch case, a physician, at the occasion of a surgery, had removed a contraceptive implant and, without advising his patient, had not replaced it.  In the first case before the BVerfG, a failed sterilization procedure carried out by a medical doctor who had been family planning counselor to the husband of plaintiff, was followed by a pregnancy; again, the doctor had neglected to inform his patient of the failure.  In both these cases, the "resulting" child turned out to be "normal" and healthy. 

This was different in the second German case.  The parents of a disabled daughter, fearing a genetic predisposition, had chosen to undergo a medical examination in a specialized institution in order to find out whether indeed ...

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Should grand-parents die?

Should grand-parents die?

- Euthanasia and assisted suicide

"'Should the Grandparents Die?':  Allocation of Medical Resources with an Aging Population"

14:3-4 Law, Medicine & Health Care 158-163.  Reprinted in Martin Lyon Levine ed., The Elderly: Legal and Ethical Issues in Healthcare Policy, (October 2007), The International Library of Medicine, Ethics and Law, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 1986

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Biotechnology & the Human Spirit

- Assisted reproduction

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

Facing the unprecedented challenge of reprogenetics

WHAT HAS CHANGED IN HUMAN REPRODUCTION?

Let's have a look, first, at the characteristics of human reproduction around fifty years ago:

Whether and when a child was conceived was largely a matter of chance (one could eliminate chance, of course, by not engaging in sexual intercourse, or reduce it by much less effective contraception than is available today). Where it was conceived was always in a woman's body. How life was transmitted to the child was through sexual reproduction. What genetic heritage the child received was determined by the natural recombination of the genes carried in the female parent's ovum and the male parent's sperm. Those genes were received by the child in their natural or unaltered state. The sex of the child was a matter of chance. Voices Across Boundaries Vol.1 No.2:...

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The ethical complexity of the Terry Schiavo case

The ethical complexity of the Terry Schiavo case

- End of life

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

Terry Schiavo is dead. The decision about withdrawing her feeding tube turned into a political circus and ideological battleground in which, for many participants, she was the pawn and victim through whom they could score points. Her most important legacy, however, is to show the complexity of decisions about whether a feeding tube on which life depends may be withdrawn. To respond ethically to individuals and to formulate ethical public policy to govern such cases, we must identify and understand that complexity.

Because all of us as babies require someone else to provide us with food and water, withholding them has a special personal impact and also is highly symbolic. We rightly recoil from seeing ourselves as causing people who are dependent on us for the necessities of life to die of thirst or starvation. Indeed, it is a criminal offence not...

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Legalizing euthanasia. Why now?

- Euthanasia and assisted suicide

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

Until very recently, all countries prohibited euthanasia....

 

Somerville, Margaret, Death Talk: The Case against Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide, McGill Queen's University Press; Montreal, 2001, pp 433.  Chapter 6 reprinted in Wesley Cragg, Christine M. Koggel, Contemporary Moral Issues, 5th Ed., 2005.

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Ethics in the context of disability

Ethics in the context of disability

- Rights and freedoms

Professor in the Faculty of Medicine
Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine,
Ethics and Law at McGill University

What is ethics?

In everyday language ethics can be described as trying not to do the wrong thing in the sense of harming people, first do no harm, and, then, wherever possible, doing the right thing in the sense of benefiting people. 

Ethics is about values, especially shared values, in particular those we adopt as our basic societal values - they are sometimes called norms.  The nature of a value is not easy to define.   The Oxford English Dictionary defines it within the context of ethics as: "That which is worthy of esteem for its own sake; that which has intrinsic worth".  Another way to describe values might be as "ethical organising principles" - they are principles that we can use to guide us in deciding what is ethical and what is not.  For instance, a belief that it is wrong to discriminate against people on the basis of physical or menta...

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