Belgium’s Liberal But Controversial Euthanasia Laws

Euthanasia Laws

“Death by Doctor” as euthanasia is often known, is strictly illegal in Canada.

Belgium however has in recent years enacted perhaps the world’s most liberal euthanasia laws. It is one of three countries along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg who have legalized euthanasia as a “medical alternative”.

A recent lethal injection given to a transsexual who suffered unbearable psychological and physical suffering following childhood abuse and terribly failed sex change operations, made international headlines.

What was unusual about the case was that the patient was not terminally ill, or even in much physical pain, but instead was primarily psychologically ill.

There is no requirement in Belgium that the patient be terminally ill, and in fact euthanasia has been granted to individuals who have predisposed genetic conditions leading to blindness and other undesirable conditions. The laws simply state that euthanasia is legal if the person who requested it is experiencing unbearable physical or mental point pain, resulting from an incurable accident or pathological condition. The request must be made in writing and approved by a physician after consultation with a colleague. A third doctor is consulted if the patient’s death is not imminent.

The view of the Belgian medical profession was that the ailing transsexual was really no different than someone suffering from multiple sclerosis or substantial paralysis.

Currently one in 50 deaths in Belgium are by euthanasia, and the trend is growing.

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