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First report on Belgian law

Taken from the World Right-to-Die Newsletter issue no. 46, Januray 2005.

The Commission established to ­monitor the operation of the assisted dying law has issued its first, unanimous, report. Its main findings are that the number of cases of assisted dying has stabilized after the first few months and nearly half of them take place at the patient’s home. The vast majority of cases involved cancer and to a lesser extent neuromuscular diseases; they included some cases where death was not imminent.

To date only one case concerned assisted dying for an unconscious person on the basis of an advance directive. Most cases affected ­persons of middle age—there were few cases under 40 years (only one of someone under 20) or over 80. An unexpected finding was that the great majority of statutory reports were in Flemish rather than in French. (The French-speaking part of the country tends to be primarily Catholic.)