August
31
 

Whose autonomy is respected in Belgium?

Opponents of euthanasia in Belgium are highlighting the state of disability services there. A recent judgement by the European Committee on Social Rights found that that Belgium’s inadequate provision of care and accommodation for highly dependent persons with disabilities amounted to a violation of human rights.

While arguments for legalised euthanasia are fundamentally based on the right to autonomy, the Committee found that Belgium had failed to promote the autonomy of the disabled. There was a failure to provide effective access to social and medical assistance, social services and housing; a violation of the right to independence, social integration and participation in the life of the community; a lack of social, legal and economic protection against poverty and social exclusion; and discrimination.

The Committee was responding to a complaint made by the International Federal for Human Rights on behalf of an estimated 75,000 disabled adults in Belgium. They include persons with multiple disabilities; persons with autism; persons with an acquired brain injury; persons with severe cerebral palsy; persons with a severe to profound mental disability; persons with behavioural disorders on top of a pre‐existing severe disability; and persons in a position of high dependency caused by a range of other factors.



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