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Belgian Parliamentary discussions on extensions on Euthanasia Law

The Belgian Parliament is discussing a number of extensions on the existing law: legalising euthanasia for minors; extending the value of an advance directive for an unlimited time; legalising euthanasia in cases of dementia and other brain-disorders; duty to refer people asking for euthanasia when a doctor is not prepared to  comply with the request.Details of the extensions are:

  • MInors: the proposal is to allow minors to ask for euthanasia – information of parents – in situations where the suffering for the minor is unbearable and hopeless. Proposed is not to bind an age-limit, but to ascertain the minor “can at the moment of the request for and application of euthanasia assess its situation and be competent”. This must be determined by a separate, expert third professional.  The debate is still going on, also since it concerns a very small number every year: one wonders if such a small quantity  merits a change of law.
  • Advance Directive: currently the advanced Directive is valid for a period of 5 years only. Proposed is to extend the validity to an unlimited time period, since it is not very logical to expect someone to change his ideas on end-of-life decisions easily. If someone wants to withdraw the Directive, it is the person self that can “tear it up”. Discussions may lead to adaptation the valid period from 5 to 10 years (as a compromise?)
  • Dementia and brain-disorders: it is concluded that more research is necessary before further discussions can take place
  • Refferal obligation: here as well discussions are postponed.