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32 Issues L. & Med. 183 (2017)
Euthanasia in Belgium: Legal, Historical and Political Review

handle is hein.journals/ilmed32 and id is 189 raw text is: 

           Euthanasia in Belgium:

                   Legal, Historical

              and Political Review
                            Toni C. Saad, M.A.*

ABSTRACT: This article describes and evaluates the Belgian euthanasia
experience by considering its practice and policy, both before and after the
formal decriminalisation of euthanasia in 2002. The pre-legal practice of eu-
thanasia, the evolution of euthanasia legislation, criticism of this legislation,
the influence of politics, and later changes to the 2002 Act on Euthanasia
are discussed, as well as the subject of euthanasia of minors and the matter
of organ procurement. It is argued that the Belgian euthanasia experience
is characterised by political expedition, and that the 2002 Act and its later
amendments suffer from practical and conceptual flaws. Illegal euthanasia
practices remain a live concern in Belgium, something which nations who
are seeking to decriminalise euthanasia should consider.
Keywords: Belgium, euthanasia, medical ethics, physician-assisted suicide

     In 2002 Belgium became the second nation in the world to legislatively decrim-
inalise euthanasia,' with the Netherlands preceding it by mere months.2 The Belgian
euthanasia experience (BEE), which began before euthanasia was formally decriminal-
ised, and its legal, historical, and political context, is the subject of this article. It aims
to provide a broad overview of the law and its evolution, and elucidate the uniquely
rapid and politically-motivated development of the BEE from its pre-legal origins to its
most recent developments, in five main sections.
     The first is a survey of euthanasia practices before formal decriminalisation in 2002.
The second sets the scene for the passing of the 2002 Act on Euthanasia by considering
the political forces which influenced its coming into law. The third is a detailed discus-
   * Medical Student, Cardiff University (UK), Tonisaadl@hotmail.com.
   Physician-assisted suicide, however, was decriminalised in Australia and Oregon, USA, in 1996 and
1997 respectively See Gorsuch NM, 2006, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Princeton Univer-
sity Press. Pp. 2-7.
   2 Euthanasia was defacto legalised in the Netherlands long before this date following a court ruling in
concerning the 1973 Postma case. See Gevers S in British Medical Bulletin. 1996;22: pp. 326-33.

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