Pages tagged "Belgium"
Belgium: euthanasia and palliative care - strange bedfellows
Apr 25, 2015
By Paul Russell, HOPE Australia In November 2013, I had the distinct pleasure of travelling to Brussels for the launch of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - Europe at the EU Parliament.The following evening my colleague and EPC International Chair, Alex Schadenberg joined Carine Brochier in debating Belgian euthanasia founders Dr Jan Berheim and Professor Etienne Vermeersch. Continue reading
Euthanasia doctor justifies death for depressed people.
Mar 22, 2015
By Alex SchadenbergInternational Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition An interview with Wim Distelmans, the chairman for the Federal Euthanasia ommission in Belgium, was published in HLN.BE (google translated) on March 15. where Distelmans explains that there were 50 - 60 psychiatric patients who died by euthanasia in 2013 - 2014.Distelmans states: Continue reading
Almost 1000 deaths are hastened without explicit request each year in Belgium.
Mar 19, 2015
By Alex SchadenbergExecutive Director Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.Contrary to the recent Supreme Court decision striking down Canada's laws that protect people from assisted death, in Belgium, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002, a significant number people are being killed without request. In fact a recent study showed that 1.7% of all deaths in 2013 in Belgium were intentionally acts to cause death without request. A similar study in 2007 indicated that 1.8% of all deaths were hastened without explicit request, no change. Continue reading
Euthanasia represents 4.6% of all deaths in Flanders Belgium in 2013
Mar 19, 2015
By Alex SchadenbergExecutive Director and International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (March 17, 2015) published the basic statistics related to a new study titled: Recent Trends in Euthanasia and Other End-of-Life Practices in Belgium.Similar to previous studies, this study sent questionnaires to 6188 physicians in Flanders Belgium, who had certified death certificates in the first half of 2013. The study received a 60.6% response rate by receiving 3751 returned questionnaires. Continue reading
The case of Tom Mortier shows how euthanasia advocates will never stop at the terminally ill
Feb 03, 2015
Godelieve De Troyer was euthanised by Belgium's 'doctor death' for severe depression. Her case must make us think twice about allowing assisted dying in Britain. Dr Kevin Yuill's recent opinion article published in the UK Telegraph reflects on the tragic death of Godelieve De Troyer and the consequent grief and bewilderment of her family, especially her son Tom Mortier. Yuill says:"Tom Mortier never paid much attention to the discussion about voluntary death in his country. "I was like just about anyone else here in Belgium: I didn't care at all," he said. "If people want to die, it's probably their choice. It didn't concern me.""But in April, 2012, ten years after the law changed to allow euthanasia, Mortier, a university lecturer, received a message at work. His 64-year-old mother, Godelieve De Troyer, who suffered from severe depression, had been euthanised the previous day. Would he be able to make the arrangements at the morgue? Continue reading
Euthanasia: "Supply creates demand"
Jan 16, 2015
"The countries that are questioning possible legalization should be aware that supply creates demand." Montero. Etienne Montero, Dean of the Faculty of Law of Namur was interviewed by Violante De Montclos for the French journal Le Point recently.This is the translated text of the interview:Montclos: For the first time, the law authorizing euthanasia in Belgium is being criticized. We talked with Etienne Montero about the case of Van Den Bleeken, of this "death penalty in reverse"...Montero: The death of Frank Van Den Bleeken has not occurred, but after him, 15 other detainees have already made a request for lethal injection. It has been forgotten that in September 2012, a 48 year old psychiatric inmate was indeed euthanized ... Our country has been condemned 14 times by the European Court of Human Rights because we continue to hold such prisoners under conditions that do not correspond to their state of psychiatric patients judged responsible for their actions. This lack of care, being accepted as a reason for euthanasia, reveal how the barriers posed in 2002 have been jumped one after the other.Montclos: Has the number of euthanasia deaths increased?Montero: Exponentially, yes. In twelve years, it went from 199 to 1,454 deaths per year. And I speak here about the referrals (reports) from doctors to the Board of Control, as the authorities admit they have no way to assess the number of actually practiced euthanasia deaths, probably much more important. Furthermore, in November 2014, euthanasia was legally open to minors, regardless of their age ...Montclos: How is the legality of lethal injections controlled?Montero: By a commission that scrutinizes the files forwarded by the doctors. But it is an a posteriori review, that is to say, once people have already died, and the Commission only has at its disposal the information that the doctor is willing to provide. Everything is biased. Moreover, in twelve years, no records were sent to court ...Montclos: A doctor, even a general practitioner, can he decide alone to access the patient's request? Montero: This may be the family doctor, yes, but the law requires him to seek a second opinion. The problem is that, to facilitate the procedure, a physician network was set up - the EOF, End of Life doctors on the French side or LEIF in Flanders. They are trained doctors practicing euthanasia and who are mostly made use of for this second opinion. Now these are doctors support the euthanasia cause, often members of the ADMD - Association for the right to die with dignity. Again, the ethical control is biased ...Montclos: You have carefully studied the reports provided by the Board of Control for twelve years. What are you implying?Montero: The law says that, to access euthanasia, it must point to a serious and incurable disease, and unbearable pain that cannot be relieved. But these two conditions are not at all interpreted today as they were in 2002. Today, for example, the Commission admits cases of multiple pathologies. These are often elderly people who suffer, for example, a decline that vision, arthritis, deafness, kidney failure ... None of these pathologies, although incurable, is not serious, but it is accepted today that all of these age-related diseases justifies the application and euthanasia of people with the only consequences of old age have increased ...Montclos: And "unbearable suffering", is not there also a complicated test to evaluate?Montero: The more we talk about physical pain but also psychic ... And, again, the interpretation of the law has evolved. In 2002, it was not about euthanasia for the depressed, demented, psychotic. Today these happen every year. But when euthanasia is invited into the field of psychiatry, it is worrying, because psychiatry is precisely to meet the vital impulse to patients who have lost ...Montclos: It is not essential for access to euthanasia, to be indeed at the end of life ...Montero: Not at all. More and more people seek and obtain death when their death is not expected soon. Now we see the amazing concept of preventive euthanasia. It applies to patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's asking while still lucid, for a lethal injection before showing advanced symptoms of the disease. It applied to the case of Verbessem brothers, deaf twins who had been diagnosed with glaucoma who were facing long-term blindness, and were euthanized in 2012 ... We demand, and death is obtained not because we suffer, but because we are afraid at the thought of suffering ... The countries that are questioning possible legalization should be aware that supply creates demand. When euthanasia was authorized twelve years ago in Belgium, it was presented as an ethical transgression, an exception reserved for extreme situations. Twelve years later, its scope has expanded considerably. Continue reading
The nihilistic liberalism of assisted dying
Jan 15, 2015
If assisted dying is a medical treatment, then all are entitled to it - including convicted murderers. Kevin Yuill in an article published in Spiked, reflects on the situation of the Belgian prisoner, Frank Van Den Bleeken. Van Den Bleeken was granted his wish for euthanasia only to have it cancelled days before it was to be carried out.Yuill observes the hypocrisy of some in the British commentariat: Continue reading
Stay of Execution for Belgian prisoner
Jan 07, 2015
Frank Van Den Bleeken's 'executioners have second thoughts. Frank Van Den Bleeken was scheduled to be killed by euthanasia in a Belgian prison on the 11th of January after receiving approval from the Belgian courts. However, in mixed messages about the reasoning within the last 24 hours, Van Den Bleeken's request to die will now not be honoured.A number of media outlets are reporting that the doctors who had agreed to commit the act of euthanasia had withdrawn. Shortly after, The Belgian Minister of Justice, Koen Geens announced that Van Den Bleeken would be transferred to a new psychiatric facility in Ghent and, afterwards, to a long-stay facility in The Netherlands.It is hard not to be cynical about this 'eleventh-hour reprieve'. Van Den Bleeken had, according to reports, only received one psychiatric intervention in his entire 30 year incarceration. He had previously asked to be transferred to the above mentioned Dutch facility and had been refused. He had been engaging the Belgian authorities for more than two years for access to euthanasia.It is understood that up to 1000 prisoners with psychiatric disorders are housed in the general prison population with no support for their conditions. The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Belgium's lack of humane facilities fourteen times in recent years. Little wonder that following the publicity around Van Den Bleeken 15 other inmates have also requested euthanasia.Even Belgium's euthanasia supremo Dr Wim Distelmans expressed reservations about this case. In an opinion article in De Morgen, Distelmans writes: I decide no longer to act as physician for euthanasia because I think some (legal) due diligence are not respected. The unbearable suffering must be caused by the incurable (psychiatric) disorder, which is only partially true. Additionally, all therapeutic options should be offered - if the patient wants - including palliative treatments that do not cure but provide a better quality of life.Here Distelmans is reflecting upon the structure of the Belgian euthanasia law. However, Distelmans' reference to other 'therapeutic options' will be considered to be little more than a bad joke for people like Tom Mortier whose mother was euthanased by Distelmans when suffering treatable clinical depression. The addition of 'if the patient wants' as a qualifier in Distelmans' objection is rather telling. What if Van Den Bleeken doesn't want to go to the Dutch facility? Does he then qualify for euthanasia? Again, a cynical view would suggest that Distelman is simply trying to distance himself from yet another controversial euthanasia death.Clearly there's much more to this case than simply another story of the Belgian slide towards euthanasia death on demand. The international scrutiny and the association of this case with capital punishment to the embarrassment of Belgian authorities seem to me to be the main motivation.Could this determination that Van Den Bleeken now receives treatment see access to euthanasia for all Belgians restricted to only once all therapeutic options have been exhausted? Not likely. No-one can be forced to try every option. So, in terms of the practice of euthanasia in Belgium, Van Den Bleeken clearly does not enjoy the same access to this 'right' as do his fellow Belgians. He has moved from experiencing one form of human rights violation against his person to another.So, while we are pleased for Van Den Bleeken that he now has access to psychiatric support services that he should have had many years earlier, this whole messy situation only serves to confirm the idiocy of trying to create a 'right-to-die'. Continue reading
Belgium prisoner euthanasia - when words and oaths lose their meaning
Jan 05, 2015
Belgium prisoner euthanasia - when words and oaths lose their meaning.The invocation of the Oath attributed to Hippocrates as a reason why doctors should not be involved in either directly killing a patient or in providing them with counsel towards or the means to commit suicide is not the lay-down-misere that it perhaps once was. Raising the ancient oath will be swiftly met by the assertion that doctors don't take that oath anymore. This is not to say that the intentions of Hippocrates and medical associations ever since that a doctor should not kill nor be involved in providing for a person to kill themselves is redundant. Not at all. But the appeal to an historic and binding context and to a tradition that re-enforced natural human rights from antiquity just doesn't seem to cut it in our post-modern world. Nothing new here in reality - the lack of critical thought and the lack of a natural pause to consider whether or not the rhetoric drip fed to us by an uncritical and sometimes pro-change media can be anything other than right is something that those of an alternate view lament.How else can we account for the abuse of our language and of concepts and human rights? When polls suggest that the majority of any surveyed group can accept that concepts like compassion and human dignity can embrace killing, then we know that there's a problem.Of course it is not only in the realm of discussions about euthanasia that we find examples of this lack of connection between concepts, laws and taboos and debate in the public square. And it is not progress that we eschew here but rather the ignorance, deliberate or otherwise, of history and of the reasons why earlier generations saw things differently.GK Chesterton recognised this problem in his book Orthodoxy, published over a 100 years ago: "Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father."In as much as I have been a good parent to my children, I have shown them by example what I have experienced of what philosophers call 'the good life' as I have learnt it and as it has been passed to me from my parents. Like every parent, my hope is that they, in turn, will build upon that foundation. This 'democracy of the dead' as Chesterton called it, is really common sense. That such 'common sense' is codified in law, in literature, in history and in this last century, in human rights conventions that speak to us from 'beyond the grave' as it were should be the foundation of progress. Ignoring it in favour of the opinions of the 'arrogant oligarchy' is like a child who ignores the ministrations of his or her parents or, worse still, the child who has not had the benefit of such formation at all.The populous is being treated as little more than an intellectual 'blank slate' upon which those who have influence over the public square can easily write their slogans again and again until they almost become indelible 'Holy Writ'. There's no other way of explaining the results of repeated polls on people's attitudes to euthanasia where such polls provide little or no additional information that might assist an individual to consider an alternate view. Words and concepts are powerful. We should not be surprised that any single poll question that equates compassion with a soft euphemism for killing will return a positive result. We all want to be compassionate, right?Examples of the abandonment of any reasonable reference to tradition, history and human rights by the abuse of concepts and language don't come any clearer than the Belgian case of Frank Van Den Bleeken. Van Den Bleeken is a serial rapist and murderer serving time in Belgian prison. I was tempted to say 'Correctional Facility' instead of prison, but that would be as cruel a misnomer as is the treatment of Van Den Bleeken by the Belgian authorities. He has been in prison for more than thirty years and has refused any option to apply for parole as he considers himself to be a 'menace to society'.In 2010 Van Den Bleeken first applied for euthanasia claiming that he was suffering 'unbearable psychological anguish'. The root cause of this anguish has never been disclosed. Is it the conditions of his confinement, his mental state, his understanding of the depravity of his crimes or something else? We do not know. What we do know is that the Belgian's have come in for significant criticism over many years for its poor treatment of prisoners. In Van Den Bleeken's case, it has been acknowledged that over his prison term, he has received only one short-lived treatment option and was refused a request to be moved to a treatment facility in neighbouring Holland. Even Belgium's euthanasia supremo, Dr Wim Distelmans, expressed reservations about euthanasia in such circumstances.In September 2014 a Belgian Court accepted his plea to be euthanased and granted him the opportunity for leave to go to a hospital to be killed there. Recent reports confirmed that he will be euthanased this month, however, now this will be done in the prison infirmary.And so Van Den Bleeken had asked the Belgian Courts to uphold his 'right' to euthanasia claiming that he qualified under the Belgian euthanasia law, was capable of making such a decision and that his request was "voluntary, considered and repeated". That euthanasia is considered a 'right' in Belgium in the 12 and more years since their law was passed is acknowledged by the weight of evidence and has now been confirmed by the courts. That his appeal is 'considered and repeated' is self-evident. But Voluntary? Really?Who are the Belgian's trying to kid here? Thirty plus years of incarceration in a penal system criticised as inhumane and without any serious attempt at rehabilitation via treatment - and somehow this neglected individual had choices? There's nothing voluntary where there's no clear alternative. But, you see, evoking the concept of 'voluntary', like the abuse of 'compassion' and 'dignity', is a salve promoted to soften any public reservations about euthanasia in the same way that 'safeguards' are supposed to make us feel less concerned about doctors killing people. "It's voluntary; no-one will be forced into it!" And so, Van Den Bleeken has 'volunteered' to die and, like obedient little lemmings we're supposed to simply nod in recognition of Van Den Bleeken's right to say so, as if there were no other human rights considerations screaming out to be heard to the contrary.Even a cursory glance at how voluntary assent is treated in law in western democracies makes the assumption of voluntariness in euthanasia law entirely suspect. The idea of full disclosure and fully informed consent has risen alongside the development of principles of autonomy in recent decades. It provides a defence in law where a voluntary party to an agreement could justifiably claim that they had not made aware of the full consequences and risks of entering into a contract. Informed consent is an accepted standard in everything from a mortgage to a medical therapy or operation. As such, evidence of compliance to this standard is also a defence. But there's nothing of that in the operation of euthanasia. Nary a formal contract, there's no redress for the deceased party and no bonafide proof that euthanasia was freely entered into with full consent and absent any pressure or coercion. All a court could ever determine might be the absence of anything to indicate coercion or lack of disclosure - which is not the same thing as proving that it never took place.And where are the objections from the pro-euthanasia and assisted suicide lobby who claim to champion human rights? Just like at the time of the Belgian debate on euthanasia for children they are either silent or supportive of Van Den Bleeken's pending euthanasia death. That the circumstances of Van Den Bleeken's incarceration are agreed by all observers to be 'cruel and unusual punishment' does not for one moment create a logical path to his destruction. It screams out for justice and the fair treatment of all of Belgium's prisoner population, not for the bleeding heart rhetoric that would use this tragic case to further a macabre cause.That Belgium rejected capital punishment as recently as 1996 cannot escape this scrutiny. Whereas euthanasia law is often referred to as state-sanctioned killing in observation that euthanasia law is the state allowing euthanasia to occur without legal penalty, this, to my knowledge, is the first time any state has intervened directly to allow a particular case. Even in The Netherlands under judicial fiat prior to their euthanasia laws in 2001, the court-made judgements set precedents only in reviewing cases where the euthanasia act had already occurred. This therefore is a new development.That, according to reports, Van Den Bleeken is now to be killed inside his prison rather than being given leave to go to a hospital adds more weight to the 'capital-punishment-by-the-back-door' argument. At the very least it is Belgium burying its problems.And yet Van Den Bleeken's death will raise little more than passing media interest. It will stand in stark relief to the media saturation of the Brittany Maynard story and her assisted suicide last year. For all that was wrong with the Maynard case it at least had the semblance of an autonomous decision. Van Den Bleeken's situation is a compounding set of abuses of human rights, yet I doubt that we'll see any human rights organisations lining up to champion an appeal on his behalf.It's little more than 60 years since the United Nations codified our natural human rights into a document that was designed to ensure that the atrocities of the world wars and other conflicts never happened again. Such a short time for two of Europe's nation states so affected by those conflicts to have forgotten so comprehensively the lessons of what happens when a country forgets its basic duty to protect its own. Continue reading
Depressed mother died by euthanasia in Belgium. Mortier challenges the law.
Jan 03, 2015
Professor Mortier takes complaint about the Belgian euthanasia laws to the European Court of Human Rights.By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Mortier's mother died by euthanasia in BelgiumTom Mortier, a chemistry professor, who lost his depressed mother, Godelieva De Troyer, to euthanasia in April 2012, has challenged the Belgian euthanasia law and the doctor who lethally injected his mother by launching a legal challenge at the European Court of Human Rights. An article written by Kelsey Harkness and published in the Daily Signal concerns Mortier's case.Harkness defines the Belgian euthanasia experience by explaining how it has expanded over time. She writes: Continue reading