In Belgium, euthanasia and assisted suicide are allowed by law, under the condition that it is performed by a physician and under the requirements of this law. This law is called Wet betreffende de euthanasie and has been in force since 2002. In Belgium, euthanasia is also applicable for minors, although extra requirements must be met in such a situation.
In Belgium, since 2002 euthanasia is allowed by the Wet betreffende de euthanasie. Before, it was explicitly forbidden by law (Article 422bis of the Penal Code). The due care criteria are specified in article 3. If a person is not assumed to die within foreseeable time, an extra physician should be consulted, just as a psychiatrist. (Article 3 paragraph 3)
The Belgium penal code (1867) does not, like the Dutch penal code does, forbid assisted suicide or the provision of lethal drugs as such. Because suicide itself is not a criminal offence in Belgium law, assisting a suicide is no criminal offence too. However, literature learns that it can be punished, based on the notion that it is a citizen’s duty to help a person in great danger. This is laid down in articles 422bis and 422ter of the penal code. A person who does not fulfill this duty can be punished by 8 days to a year imprisonment.
With the introduction of the Wet betreffende de euthanasie, the question arose whether this law also covered assisted suicide, as assisted suicide is not, like it is in the Dutch law, explicitly mentioned in the Belgium euthanasia law. This question is answered positively by the Belgian Council of state (Raad van State). It must be noted that, just as in the Netherlands, assisted suicide is only allowed when it is performed by physicians, because the law is written only for them.
Right to Die Societies
There are two Right to Die Societies in Belgium: a French-speaking and a Dutch-speaking: