Euthanasia is used to refer to situations where an individual decides to end their own life. Unlike suicide, euthanasia is a term reserved for those suffering from incurable diseases and is generally expected to be a painless experience. However, what exactly can be defined as euthanasia and what is suicide is often highly debated.
This is especially the case for Belgian euthanasia law. With some of the most liberal euthanasia laws in the world, the country often comes under intense scrutiny.
Two of the most controversial aspects of Belgian euthanasia law are the fact that “competent” terminally ill children under the age of eighteen can choose to be euthanised with their parent’s consent, as can those suffering from severe mental health issues.
One recent case regarding Belgium’s euthanasia laws went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights before being resolved. In the Mortier vs Belgium case, Tom Mortier claimed that he had not been informed of his mother’s decision to be euthanised until after the fact. However, the court discovered that Mortier had received an email informing him of the decision, to which he had not replied. The court then sided with Belgium on three of the four counts brought before them, finding fault with the Belgian government’s review of the case.
Nonetheless, the case was a controversial one, and the reporting on it was incredibly biased. I was shocked when researching Belgian euthanasia law how many articles so blatantly misrepresented cases. In the case of Mortier vs Belgium, I found many articles telling the story as though Mortier had won the case, with headlines such as “Belgium slammed by Europe’s highest human rights court over euthanasia” and other aspects painting completely false images of the situation.
Indeed, the majority of articles I found discussing Belgian euthanasia were biased and clearly written with an agenda. Media on the subject made it seem as though it was a highly controversial and often debated topic in Belgium, something I personally do not believe after researching the topic. I found no anti-euthanasia groups in the country, and in fact had an incredibly hard time finding any sources at all. It seems as though, in my personal opinion, the issue is often dramatized within very specific circles.
However, I persevered with my topic, and spoke to two sources with opposing ideas on the topic, which can be heard in the podcast below.