Belgium : Constantly Rising Euthanasia


The Belgian Federal Commission for the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia has recently published two types of report:  the statistics on euthanasia for 2022 which reveal a constant rise in the numbers and the biannual report for 2020-2021 which analyses in greater detail the evolution of euthanasia cases.

Continuing rise in the number of euthanasia

2,966 euthanasia were conducted out of the 116,500* deaths recorded during 2022, which is a record since legalisation in 2002, representing an increase of 9.9% relative to the previous year.

This represents 2.5% of all deaths. The Control Commission recognises that it “has no means of evaluating the proportion of the number of euthanasia declared as opposed to the total number of euthanasia truly performed.” Scientific studies have evaluated at 25 to 35% the number of undeclared euthanasia which ought to be added to the official figure. (JPSM, 2018).

Acts of euthanasia remain considerably more numerous in Flanders (70.4%) compared with Walloon (29.6%) even if the percentage is rising in the French-speaking region. The ratio was 75% – 25% for the 2020 – 2021 period.

The proportion of deaths not expected to occur in the short term represented 17% of euthanasia in 2022 compared with 14% for the 2020 – 2021 period.

Contrary to what is claimed by some supporters of euthanasia, the number of foreign patients resorting to euthanasia remains low: 61 foreign patients including 53 French nationals.

An extensive interpretation of the law

The European Institute for Bioethics has produced a detailed analysis of the reasons given for euthanasia. An extensive interpretation of the law can be observed, in particular concerning psychic and psychiatric suffering, which has also been highlighted in a recent study. As underlined by the European Institute for Bioethics: “The picture painted by the authors is all the more concerning in that the objective of the legislator in 2002, by legalising euthanasia, was to put an end to illegal euthanasia and to limit euthanasia to exceptional cases. These two objectives are however far removed from the reality of today.”

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