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A group of legislators in Belgium is seeking to expand the practice of euthanasia to include those who are unconscious, as well as minors, according to a recent article in the Spanish newspaper Hoy.

The initiative, spearheaded by former Senator Jean-Jacques de Gucht, was originally launched in 2004 and failed, the article states.

The new proposed legislation will allow people to create a type of “living will” that will allow doctors to euthanize them if they are unconscious and unable to give consent.

While euthanasia has been legal in Belgium 2002, the existing law has prohibited the practice under the above-mentioned circumstances.

Doctors who refuse to kill their patients under the law will be required to refer them to a doctor who is willing to do it, reports Hoy.

Related: Euthanasia Rates Escalating: Kills One a Day in Belgium, Five a Day in Netherlands

250 Belgian Pharmacies Offer Euthanasia Kits

[29May08, MC Hoffman, Brussels,]



NUMBER OF NETHERLANDS EUTHANASIA CASES INCREASES, AND ALL DEATHS ARE NOT INCLUDED. The official number of euthanasia cases in the Netherlands is on the rise, but not all cases of killing patients are included.

The official report mentions only three cases involving physicians who didn’t follow the proper protocols when killing the patient. The ANP news service indicated the number of euthanasia cases rose to 2,120 last year from 1,923 in 2006.

In three instances, the regional committees responsible for ensuring the criteria for legal euthanasia are followed indicated doctors had not adhered to the law. The report indicated the committees forwarded information about the cases to the justice department and health inspectors.

Though the numbers show more patients losing their lives, noted American bioethics author and attorney Wesley Smith says the voluntary euthanasia figures don’t include all cases of euthanasia or assisted suicide.

He said these “legalized murders do not include the about 900 ‘termination without request or consent’ non-voluntary euthanasia deaths that Dutch studies have reported doctors commit each year.”

[1May08,, Amsterdam, Netherlands]