In Belgium, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002, the Parliament is now discussing whether children as young as twelve should be able to choose to have their lives ended this way:
It’s more than a little frightening to know that the slippery slope to the current situation in Belgium began long before euthanasia was formally legalized there. In practice, “passive euthanasia, ” where doctors gave patients drugs to hasten their deaths, was commonly practiced long before it became legally endorsed in Belgium.
A study conducted in Flanders (the Dutch-Flemish speaking part of Belgium) in 1998 showed that despite lack of legislation permitting euthanasia, end-of-life decisions were common among general practitioners in Flanders, and that the frequency of deaths preceded by an end-of-life decision was similar to that in the Netherlands, whose “experience” of legal euthanasia was used as a model for the one Belgium adopted. The study concluded that in Flanders, where sixty percent of the population resides, more than five percent of all deaths in general practice (an estimated 1200 cases) resulted from the use of drugs with the explicit intention of shortening the patient’s life.[i]
More recently, studies have shown that more than one in ten deaths among Belgium’s ten million people is the result of “informal” euthanasia.[ii]
Despite persistent claims of the pro-suicide lobby that legislation to allow “Patient Choice in Dying” will not lead down a slippery slope, the evidence from places like Belgium suggests that it will indeed.