Lawmakers in Belgium are considering a move that would loosen the country’s euthanasia laws to allow the practice for those suffering from dementia. According to The Brussels Times, the country’s liberal party wants to allow patients to sign an advanced directive in which they request euthanasia should they become mentally incapacitated. According to the BBC, current regulations require the patient “must be legally competent and conscious at the time of seeking to end their life,” with requests that “must be voluntary, well-considered and repeated.” Politicians looking to change the law call these safeguards “shortcomings.”
“On May 28, the euthanasia law turns twenty. It is high time to eliminate the shortcomings in the law,” said Robby De Caluwé, Katja Gabriëls and Jean-Jacques De Gucht.
Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 and has long been one of the foremost countries in advocating for legalized death. It was even criticized for its radical euthanasia laws by the UN Human Rights Council in 2021. “A fair and just society cares for its most vulnerable. International law protects everyone’s inherent right to life and requires countries to protect the dignity and lives of all people, rather than help ending them. Sadly, over the years, we have seen Belgium’s euthanasia law spiral out of control,” said Giorgio Mazzoli, UN legal officer for ADF International, Geneva.
There are many examples of the ways in which Belgium’s euthanasia laws have been relaxed over the years. In 2014, the country legalized euthanasia for children. Shockingly, one study revealed that 10% of babies born in Northern Belgium were euthanized between 2016 and 2017. Most recently, Belgium has been criticized for its rise in euthanasia rates among the mentally ill, as was seen with this woman, who was euthanized because she suffered from depression and autism. Other academic reporting indicates that even the safeguards in place are often disregarded or not followed.
Belgium is not the first country to consider legalized euthanasia for those with dementia. The Netherlands, which has also long held relaxed euthanasia laws, already allows the practice. As has been seen already in that country, allowing euthanasia for someone who may not have their full mental capacity is a dangerous practice that leads to abuse and forcible deaths.
Legalizing euthanasia for people with dementia is just another example of the slippery slope that comes with an assisted death mentality. When people begin to believe that sometimes life isn’t worth living because someone may be sick or suffering, it isn’t a far stretch for the state to begin to determine who gets to live and die.
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