‘Euthanasia tourists’ choose Belgium to seek death

People wanting to be euthanised are travelling to Belgian accident and emergency departments and asking to be killed.

Last year, more than 2,000 people were euthanised in Belgium – more than double the number five years earlier.

Belgium legalised euthanasia for adults in 2002 and for children in 2014.

Illegal

In the UK, euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal, with both MPs in Westminster and MSPs in Edinburgh recently voting against the practice.

Olivier Vermylen, a doctor at a Brussels hospital, described the situation as a “phenomenon that did not exist five or six years ago”.

“Nowadays I get phone calls about French people who arrive in the emergency room announcing that they want euthanasia”, he said.

Dozens of cases

The Times reported that euthanasia is usually free to patients travelling from European countries to Belgium, under the European health insurance card scheme.

The Belgian Government responded by saying there were “not more than dozens” of cases of euthanasia carried out on foreign patients per year.

Earlier this year it was revealed that a Roman Catholic care home was fined for refusing to euthanise a 74-year-old woman.

Conscience

The rest home in Diest was ordered to pay €6,000 after it prevented doctors from giving Mariette Buntjens, a lung cancer sufferer, a lethal injection.

She died “in peaceful surroundings” at her home a few days later.

A panel of three judges ruled unanimously that “the nursing home had no right to refuse euthanasia on the basis of conscientious objection”.

They interpreted Belgium’s euthanasia law to mean that only individual medical professionals can refuse requests, not hospitals or care homes.

Related Resources