In Belgium, the Federal Control Commission for Evaluating Euthanasia (“CFCEE”) has submitted its ninth governmental report presenting the national statistics for euthanasia between 2018 and 2019.
Euthanasia has significantly increased in Belgium, with a 12.6% annual increase in the number of officially recorded cases, although the total number is unknown due to cases which go unreported. Since this act was decriminalized in Belgium, official data show that 22,081 people died from euthanasia.
The report proposes different options to classify the data.
The declarations of euthanasia according to the language (Dutch or French), to the age, with a worrying increase for 30-39 years and 69-89 years, the number of declared cases of euthanasia as compared with the number of non declared cases (an information which cannot be available).
The report investigates on the issue of the advance directives, the place where the doctor carried out euthanasia, and the list of the deseases which have led to a request for euthanasia. Cancer continues to be the leading cause for requesting euthanasia (62%); although requests due to psychological suffering have doubled since the last report.
Half of the 45 patients residing abroad who came to Belgium for euthanasia, were not expected to die soon. For the year 2019, there has 18 euthanasia cases with organ donation.
Euthanasia for “irreversible” psychological suffering is very controversial, as demonstrated in the case of a 38-year-old woman, Tine Nys.
Following her death, her relatives decided to press charges, arguing that she had been falsely diagnosed as autistic to quality for euthanasia. The public prosecution finally ruled that the legal conditions for euthanasia had not been respected.
A comprehensive analysis of the data has recently been published by the European Institute of Bioethics. It concludes that : “over the course of the biannual reports the Commission has interpreted the text of the law with an increasing liberality, and as a result of this the Commission has completely given up its role as a supervisor of a number of legal conditions (e.g. subjectivity of the unbearable nature of suffering, seriousness of the patient’s state of health due to a combination of pathologies that are not serious when taken individually, and the distinction between substantial and non-substantial conditions, with the latter not even justifying a referral to the crown prosecutor,…) .»