Belgium fears euthanasia tourism

A French doctor's plans to euthanize patients in Belgium on a regular basis has led experts in bio-ethics to warn against possible euthanasia tourism.

Marjan Justaert
Marjan Justaert De Standaard, Belgium
Source: De Standaard
Belgium fears euthanasia tourism - NewsMavens
Hands holding pills. Pexels

Why this story matters:

In 2017, French writer Anne Bert traveled to Belgium to end her life in a hospital. She made a public announcement announcing that she would go through with assisted suicide. Her case received a lot of attention, and was supposed to be a "precedent" for other French citizens who might want to legally terminate their lives.

In Belgium, a majority is in favor of the current euthanasia legislation, which exists since 2002, but other European countries such as neighboring France still forbid assisted suicide, leading to ethical dilemmas in hospitals.

Should doctors ask about nationality when someone requests euthanasia?

And what about French doctors who travel to Belgium to go through with a procedure that would be considered a serious crime in their own country?

According to Anne Bert, the path to euthanasia in Belgium is complicated. One cannot enter the country in the morning and receive a lethal injection in the afternoon, despite what many claim. But still, in legal terms, there is absolutely nothing preventing foreign citizens to come to Belgium for assisted suicide.

Details from the story:

  • A French doctor would like to make regular trips to Belgium with patients wishing to go through assisted suicide. The procedure is illegal in France.
  • The Belgian Committee of Bio-Ethics evaluated the question.
  • In, 2016 and 2017 at least 23 foreigners traveled to Belgium to end their lives. Since patients are not requested to reveal their nationality, the real numbers could be much higher.
  • The committee fears "euthanasia tourism", Dr Paul Cosyns says.
  • Dr Wim Distelmans, who chairs Belgium's Federal Control and Evaluation Committee and is one of the country's first life-ending doctors, says the French must solve their own problems.

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