Is the slippery slope at work in Belgium?

The “slippery slope” is often derided as a logical fallacy. But when one of the leading advocacy groups for euthanasia in Belgium posts an article entitled “Euthanasie: tijd voor de volgende stap, Euthanasia, time for the next step”, it’s hard not to think that it may not be so illogical after all.

The Humanistisch-Vrijzinnige Vereniging (Humanist-Liberal Association) complains that eligibility for euthanasia is far too restrictive. At the moment, only people with unbearable suffering can be euthanased. This leaves out people in irreversible comas, people with dementia, people with irreversible brain diseases and people who are under 18. This is manifestly unfair, the HVV contends.

However, this is not just a private initiative. In November Wim Distelmans, the chairman of the official Federal Committee on Euthanasia, released an open letter to Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo asking him to re-open a national debate on euthanasia. (At the time, Di Rupo was pulling a government together (this took 589 days) but now he is officially prime minister.) He and eight colleagues, like the HVV, have asked the Belgian government to update its 2002 euthanasia law. The proposed changes include these provisions:

  • At the moment, advance directives are only valid for five years. This limit should be removed.
  • Doctors who oppose euthanasia should be required to refer patients to a willing colleague.
  • Assisted suicide should be permitted.
  • It should be permitted to euthanase people with dementia who have written a living will.
  • There should be no age limit for euthanasia. (A recent opinion poll claimed that two-thirds of Belgians approve of euthansia for minors.)

Institut Européen de Bioéthique, Dec 6

This article is published by Michael Cook and under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

comments powered by Disqus

 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

 Recent Posts
Concerns raised about COVID-19 and moral distress
28 Jun 2020
Should biobanks be used in criminal investigations?
21 Jun 2020
Questions raised about Sweden’s Covid-19 policy on nursing homes
20 Jun 2020
Should defunding the police be a bioethics priority?
20 Jun 2020
More protests over eugenics, this time at Michigan State
20 Jun 2020

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | rss RSS | Archive | Bookmark and Share |

BioEdge - New Media Foundation Ltd © 2004 - 2019