Daily Mail: Doctors in Belgium are killing an average of five people every day by euthanasia, new figures have revealed. The statistics also show a huge 27 percent surge in the number of euthanasia cases in the last year alone.
The soaring number of deaths will inevitably fuel fears that euthanasia is out of control in Belgium, a country which only months ago became the first in world to allow doctors to kill terminally ill children.
The figures, published in Sudpresse, Belgium’s leading French-speaking newspaper, showed that 1,816 cases of euthanasia were reported in 2013 compared to 1,432 in 2012, an overall increase of 26.8 percent.
“You could say that currently there are 150 cases of euthanasia per month in Belgium or, even more telling, five people euthanized in a day,” the newspaper said.
Of the total number of cases in 2013, 51.7 percent were male patients and 48.3 percent were female.
Elderly people aged between 70 and 90 years made up just over half (53.5 percent) of the total. Those aged between 60 and 70 years represented 21 percent and those aged over 90 years seven percent. The under-60s accounted for just 15 percent of the total of number of cases.
In 2003 Belgium was the second country in the world to legalize euthanasia after Holland liberalized the law a year earlier, becoming the first country since Nazi Germany to permit the practice.
Over the past decade the numbers of Belgians dying by euthanasia has crept up incrementally.
There was a 25 percent increase in the number of euthanasia deaths from 2011 to 2012, soaring from 1,133 to 1,432, a figure representing about two percent of all deaths in the country.
In February Belgium extended euthanasia to children who are terminally-ill and in a state of unrelieved suffering. They must also be judged to have “capacity of discernment”, affirmed by a psychologist, and the consent of their parents before then can die by injection.
Anti-euthanasia campaigners have argued that such safeguards have consistently proved by be meaningless. They say that besides patients who are gravely ill, euthanasia is used increasingly on people with depression or non-terminal conditions.
Those killed include deaf twins Marc and Eddy Verbessem, 45, who were granted their with to die in December 2012 after they learned they would likely to become blind.
Last year, Nancy Verhelst, 44, a transsexual, was also killed by euthanasia after doctors botched her sex change operation, leaving her with physical deformities she felt made her look like a “monster”.
Disability rights campaigner Nikki Kenward of the UK-based Distant Voices pressure group said the figures demonstrated the difficulties in regulating euthanasia. She said that once a country legalized assisted suicide or euthanasia people were inevitably killed in greater numbers than ever envisioned.
The figures should serve as a warning to the Parliament not to change the law on homicide to allow even assisted suicide, she said. “As the numbers of people dying from euthanasia in Belgium grow, that slippery slope comes into vision,” said Mrs. Kenward.
“I am vulnerable,” said Mrs. Kenward, who has been in a wheelchair since the 1990s when she developed Guillain Barre syndrome. “I’m afraid of becoming another statistic, another faceless victim,” she said, adding: “We are told that safeguards will protest us from abuses. They certainly do not protect the elderly in Belgium.”