Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Belgian proposal for euthanasia of dementia sufferers and minors

The European institute of Bioethics reports on two new initiatives to expand the culture of death in Belguim. 

Three members of the Belgian House of Representatives (Myriam Vanlerberghe, Renaat Landuyt and Maya Detiège) according to the report, have tabled draft legislation for euthanizing people suffering from dementia.

The authors start from the observation that the Act of May 28, 2002 on euthanasia does not apply to people with dementia even if they have drafted an advance directive while still capable of doing so.
The authors argue that dementia is generally progressive and suggest that anyone, even if already ill, could write an advance directive nominating the stage at which his/her life may be terminated without ant limitation as to timescale. These people may therefore be euthanized, even if completely unable to consent at the time of euthanasia (confusion, unconsciousness), and even if the forward declaration was written many years before.
The authors also attack conscientious objection by suggesting that if the doctor refuses to perform euthanasia, there would be an obligation to transfer the case to a doctor who will implement the written request.

The same authors have also filed October 28, 2010 a bill on euthanasia of minors.
They propose that a minor with the faculty of discernment (12 years) should be able to request euthanasia under the same conditions as an adult. The decision would be made in consultation with parents and a medical team comprising at least the attending physician, nurse practitioner, a child psychologist or psychiatrist and a social worker.

 If the minor has no power of discernment, parents could make the request for euthanasia themselves.
In case of premature birth it is proposed that the decision could be taken by the parents in consultation with a small medical team.