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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Belgium: Euthanasia Doubles in 10 Years

Euthanasia deaths are going up in Belgium, now up to about 2% of all deaths in Flanders. From the story:

Cases of euthanasia in Belgium’s Flanders region soared to nearly 2 percent of all deaths in 2007 after the country legalized the practice a few years earlier, a medical study has shown. The survey, conducted by an end-of-life research group at the Brussels-based Free University, said the rise was mainly due to Belgium’s 2002 euthanasia law, which gave terminally ill patients more choices. “We found that the enactment of the Belgian euthanasia law was followed by an increase in all types of medical end-of-life practices, with the exception of the use of lethal drugs without the patient’s explicit request,” the group said in a letter published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

The survey is the third such study conducted on the controversial issue in Belgium, said Dr. Johan Bilsen, who helped conduct the study. His team surveyed a random sample of 6,202 death certificates of people who died between June and November 2007 in Flanders, a Dutch-speaking region that accounts for six million of Belgium’s 10 million people. The certifying doctors involved in the sample were also questioned. In all, 118 cases of euthanasia were found. Bilsen said there was a rising trend in assisted death practices from the first Belgian study conducted in 1998. “It has doubled since 1998. It is going up from 1.1 to 1.9 percent,” Bilsen told the Associated Press.

If Belgium is like the Netherlands, many euthanasia deaths are not reported.

And don’t forget, many of the total deaths would not have involved medical care, e.g. sudden heart attacks, accidents, etc. So the percentage of euthanasia deaths of patients who were under a doctor’s care will be higher than 2%.

Oh, by the way, if the USA had a two percent euthanasia/assisted suicide rate, it would amount to about 50,000 mercy killings per year (based on approximately 2.5 million annual deaths in the USA).

From here.

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