Belgian liberal party wants legalisation of euthanasia following a ‘fulfilled life’
Tuesday, 29 October 2019
The president of Open Vld, Gwendolyn Rutten, considers the time is ripe to open a debate on the right to die of those who consider their life is fulfilled – not hurriedly but in peace and quiet, she pleaded in De Morgen.
This weekend, “Het Laatste Nieuws” published the testimony of one of the anchorwomen marking the history of radio in Flanders, Lutgart Simoens.
At the age of 91, Simoens does not suffer from any illness and has been able to retain her relative quality of life. But she considers she has lived long enough and would prefer to pass on peacefully when she decides the time has come.
The conditions set down in Belgian law governing euthanasia do not allow her to do it. “I must first have to suffer in an intolerable and irrevocable way. Give me one reason why suffering should be intolerable? There are none. What I want is to be able to go to sleep peacefully, in full possession of my faculties, free of pain, and before I degenerate physically and mentally. That ought to be everyone’s right,” she explained.
The president of the Flemish liberals shares her opinion. “We must be able to choose the right to die not only when we are suffering in an intolerable way but also when our lives are fulfilled and we request to do it explicitly, freely, independently and firmly,” Rutten emphasised.
This kind of appeal has remained an isolated one in political circles. That is up until now.
Sp.a says it is astonished: it has been trying for some time to open a debate on extending euthanasia to dementia cases but its initiative has not been followed up until now, even by the liberals.
As far as the N-VA and CD&V are concerned, they do not want to hear about an extension to the euthanasia law until it has been thoroughly reviewed. As for the Social Party and the Reformist Movement, they consider that such a debate is not even on the agenda, reports De Morgen.
The co-president of the Federal Commission on Euthanasia, Wim Distelmans, is also uncomfortable with the idea. “If there is no medical reason, then I personally have problems,” declared the VUB professor and pioneer in Belgium of care for dying patients.