Belgian Doctors: Possibly More than 1,000 Euthanasia Deaths a Year

Brussels, Belgium ( -- Doctors in Belgium over the weekend held a forum on euthanasia following the first year of legalized assisted suicide in the country. Though they admitted there could be as many as 1,000 deaths via euthanasia annually, a leading spokesman says the practice should be expanded to include teenagers and more disabled persons.

Several hundred doctors attended the national event, days after governmental figures showed just over 250 people died by euthanasia in the European country last year.

However, the doctors said that the number of deaths is severely underreported and there could be as many as 1,000 people who died last year from the grisly practice.

Surprisingly, the stark figure doesn't have the country's doctors up in arms. Instead, Wim Distelmans, chairman of the evaluation commission, wants to see euthanasia expanded to include teenagers and people suffering from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Distelmans also wants doctors who don't believe in euthanasia to be required to refer patients to other doctors who will kill them.

Pro-life advocates say allowing teens to seek assisted suicide does them a disservice. Teen suicide rates are high in many country as teenagers battle depression as a result of academic and peer pressure and their first forays into relationships.

Brian Johnston is the author of "Death as a Salesman: What's Wrong With Assisted Suicide." He tells that the doctors' forum represents the "condescending, utilitarian view of humanity employed by euthanasia advocates."

"'Imperfect' human beings are dismissed as objects that will do everyone, including themselves, a favor if they will just die," Johnston explained.

Johnston was amazed that doctors would not only ignore the potential deaths of more than 1,000 people but work to expand the law.

"When physicians would not only ignore a thousand quiet, secret killings by doctors, but in fact demand more; when they would reprimand and force colleagues who hesitate to kill depressed patients based on the patient's judgment and not their own; when an unalloyed zeal for medically implemented death sweeps a nation so quickly and savagely, the rest of the world is duty bound to give pause," Johnston concluded.

Source: Steven Ertelt, ( Editor, December 8, 2003.

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