Euthanasia cases in Belgium rise by 27 per cent in a year

04 June 2014

There was a record 1,816 cases of euthanasia in 2013, the equivalent of about five deaths a day, official statistics show. The latest figures show that the number of deaths rose by more than a quarter (27 per cent) over the previous year.

That record result followed a similar increase in 2012 over 2011.

Only 24 people opted for euthanasia when Belgium legalised it in 2002, a month after its Dutch neighbours became the first country in the world to allow it.

The official report said 73 per cent of the cases concerned cancer patients, just over half of them older than 70. The gender ratio was 51.7 per cent men and 48.3 per cent women.

Although it is considered more religious than Wallonia, Flanders accounted for 80 per cent of all euthanasia cases. This appeared due to the cultural influence of the nearby Netherlands, where Dutch is also spoken. The Walloons’ low level reflects the reservations of fellow French-speakers in neighbouring France.

The Church in Belgium has consistently opposed the legalisation of euthanasia. In February King Philippe signed into law a bill that will allow minors to request euthanasia.

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