Belgium Sees Over 200 Euthanasia Deaths During First Year Allowed

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 28, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Belgium Sees Over 200 Euthanasia Deaths During First Year Allowed

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 28, 2003

Brussels, Belgium ( — According to new figures from the Belgian government, there were 203 confirmed euthanasia deaths since the European country legalized the practice last year.

The Federal Ministry for Public Health released the figures on Tuesday and an official governmental report is expected early next year.

The data shows that significantly more, four to one, Flemish-speaking Belgians are seeking assisted suicide than French residents.

Brian Johnston, the author of "Death as a Salesman: What’s Wrong With Assisted Suicide" told that the figure leads him to believe that "euthanasia is not being employed for medically indicated reasons but instead for culturally indicated reasons."

The second revealing aspect has to do with the government’s monitoring and promotion of euthanasia, Johnston said. This summer the Belgian "Ministry of Euthanasia Control" had minimized the situation, suggesting there were far fewer actual acts of euthanasia

Following the report, federal Health Minister Rudy Demotte said the government is looking at changes in the law to better check compliance with the regulations as well as make the application form simpler.

"The Belgian Medical Association quickly repudiated that suggestion, keeping the bureaucrats honest, thus requiring more transparency from the ‘controlling government authority,’" Johnston explained. "But now, rather than question the propriety and apparent imbalances in the use of euthanasia, the government is seeking to simplify and expand the practice, an ominous turn for the medically and emotionally vulnerable in Belgium.