End of life

Belgium - Belgium : a further extension of euthanasia

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.

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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What’s wrong with assisted dying

What’s wrong with assisted dying

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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Should grand-parents die?

Should grand-parents die?

"'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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The ethical complexity of the Terry Schiavo case

The ethical complexity of the Terry Schiavo case

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?

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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Euthanasia Policy and practice in Belgium

Belgium - Euthanasia Policy and practice in Belgium

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 sem...

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Birth, Death & Technoscience

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

Searching for Values at the Margins of Life

The Changing Context of Birth and Death 

We humans have always formed our most important values and sought meaning in life by weaving a metaphorical fabric around the two marker events of every human life, birth and death.  Our perceptions of birth, and the values traditionally attached to it, are being challenged and changed, however, by the new technoscience.  The "new genetics" debate is the context in which that is occurring.  There is also a companion debate about euthanasia focusing on the values that should govern death.  While euthanasia is not a new issue, the current debate is of a different order (it is widespread in western democracies) and possibly different in kind (it is based on individual rights) from those in the past.  It is not an accident that we are presently debating both eu-ge...

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“Thou shalt not die in pain”: Treatment decisions at the 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

A recent paper, Consensus Guidelines on Analgesia and Sedation in Dying Intensive Care Unit Patients (L.A Hawryluck, W.R.C. Harvey, L. Lemieux-Charles and P.A. Singer, University of Toronto, March 2002) attracted a great deal of media attention.  In the process, some confusion about the ethics and law of treating the pain and suffering of dying people, in particular, those in intensive care units, was revealed.  So, what are the current bottom-line ethical and legal rules?

Patient-centred decisionmaking...

First, decision making about treatment must be patient-centred - in the past, it was physician-centred.  Requiring the patient's - or the incompetent patient's representative's - informed consent to giving, withholding or withdrawing treatment, ensures patient-centredness. 

At a certain point, terminally ill patients - or their representatives ...

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Euthanasia by Confusion

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

Which terms are used?

Is the euthanasia debate best by confusion?

 

"Euthanasia by Confusion" (1997) 20:3  University of New South Wales Law Journal  550-575; abbreviated version also published in Policy Options, 1997, 18(10):21-24; in The Advocate, 1998, 56 (6): 875-884; in Review Catholic Health Association of Canada, 1998; 26(1):3-10

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