In November 2013, I debated Dr. Jan Bernheim in Brussels, Belgium concerning the practice of euthanasia.
During the debate I explained that data from studies proved that in the Flanders region of Belgium (2007) 32% of the assisted deaths were done without explicit request, assisted deaths were being done by nurses (the law limits the act to physicians) and 47% of the assisted deaths were not reported.
The research indicated that assisted deaths, that are done “outside of the law” share a high co-relation with the demographic group of people who are over the age of 80, who are incompetent to make decisions, who usually die in a hospital and usually have an unpredictable end-of-life trajectory, representing a vulnerable patient group at risk of having euthanasia imposed upon them.
Since then recent Belgian studies concerning the practice assisted death in the Flanders region of Belgium (2013) found that 1.7% of all deaths, (more than 1000 deaths) were hastened without explicit request, and more than 40% of the assisted deaths were not reported. The practice of clandestine euthanasia was not improving in Belgium.
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Bernheim is fully aware that there is significant abuse of the Belgian euthanasia law. After being challenged at the 2013 debate, Bernheim stated that “there are problems with the Belgian euthanasia law.”
n an article by Mike Watson, published in the Stuff news, Bernheim is quoted as saying:
Uncontrolled, clandestine euthanasia practices to help the terminally ill to die could be avoided if New Zealand legislated to control physician assisted dying, a Belgian medical expert says.
Professor Jan Bernheim, an oncologist and founder of ‘Not Necessarily Terminal’, addressed a meeting in New Plymouth on Monday night attended by around 40 people.
New Plymouth was the second of eight meetings he will talk at during the next three weeks as a guest of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society for a series of nationwide public talks entitled ‘Dying Well in Belgium’.
“In Belgium we’ve put an end to the clandestine practice, and because of the openness of the whole process, abuse of the dying patient is much less probable now that it is legalized with strict controls and peer review in place.”
The law also protected caregivers from undue prosecution.
Before the law changed in Belgium, dying patients who requested euthanasia with the knowledge of their families or nursing staff were less likely to get it because doctors were worried they could be charged with murder if someone who knew about the request objected to euthanasia, he said.
Ironically, before the law, dying patients with intractable suffering who did not request euthanasia were more likely to get their suffering shortened paternalistically by doctors.
The legislation put an end to this sad paradox, he said.
Meanwhile the number of euthanasia deaths are increasing every year in Belgium with the practice of euthanasia extending to greater numbers of conditions and even to children.
Bernheim is a long-time euthanasia promoter who will willingly hide the facts at the altar of death.