An article by Simon Demeulemeester and Jeroen de Preter published in The Knack last year concerns comments by euthanasia doctors Marc Cosyns and Wim Distelmans. In response to Ivo Poppe, a nurse who admitted to killing 10 – 20 people, including his mother, Cosyns told the Belgian media that each year there are 1000 assisted deaths without request.
Cosyns only restated the data from a study published in the NEJM (April 19, 2015) indicating that 1.7% of all deaths (more than 1000) in the Flanders region of Belgium, were hastened without explicit request in 2013.
An earlier study found that 1.8% of all deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were hastened without explicit request, in 2007, meaning that the problem has been consistent.
Distelmans, the chair of the Belgian euthanasia commission, attempts to cover-up the data from the study by stating that ending of life without consent occurred before euthanasia became legal and is only done when a physician has “no choice.” Distelmans says (google translated):
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Doctors in particular who stood with their backs against the wall. Their decision was always well-considered and well-reasoned. If a nurse was involved, it was purely to provide technical assistance, for example by installing an infusion. It is unthinkable that nurses would administer a euthanatic drug on their own.
Distelmans not only tries to covers-up the data from the NEJM (April 19, 2015) study, he covers-up the data from a study that was published in the CMAJ (May 17, 2010) indicating that in 2007, nurses participated in 248 euthanasia deaths with 120 of those deaths being done without the explicit consent of the patient. The data also indicated that nurses participated in 12% of the euthanasia deaths with a request from the patient and 45% of the euthanasia deaths that they participated in were done without the request of the patient.
Several years ago Dr Cosyns stated that he does not report the euthanasia deaths that he does because he believes that euthanasia is no different than any other medical or palliative care procedure. The Knack article reports that Cosyns wants the euthanasia law to now be dismantled.