The country with the world’s most liberal and permissive euthanasia policy is considering whether to extend it even further.@ The opposition socialist party has submitted proposals which would prohibit doctors from denying requests for euthanasia and is expected to be supported by many of its parliamentary members. Requests for euthanasia would have to be considered as ‘urgent’ and doctors would not be allowed to insist that patients take more time to consider their options before coming to a decision and would have to provide their consent within seven days or pass it onto another medical professional to make the decision.
There has been a concerning increase in the number of people who decide to end their lives in Belgium since it legalised euthanasia in 2002; according to Christian Concern, “there has been a seven fold increase in deaths by euthanasia between 2002 and 2013. Euthanasia and assisted suicide now account for 6.3% of all deaths in Belgium.”@ Belgians are already allowed to request an assisted death for reasons other than terminal illnesses, such as loneliness and depression, and children have recently been allowed to request to end their lives. These new proposals are another step closer to providing a ‘death on demand’ service. British MP, Lord Carlile of Berriew is quoted by Christian Concern as saying “The covert and major decrease in the protection of sick and vulnerable people in Belgium is of great concern. Euthanasia merely on demand looms, without stringent ethical tests or protection against undue influence.”