Euthanasia Tourists Flocking to Belgian A&Es


An increasing number of “euthanasia tourists” are travelling from France to the accident and emergency rooms of Brussels hospitals to obtain a lethal injection. Last year 2,023 people were medically killed in Belgium, more than double the figure of five years earlier. Elective medical killings are outlawed in France.


“It’s a phenomenon that did not exist five or six years ago,” Olivier Vermylen, an emergency doctor at a Brussels hospital, told Belgium’s Sudpresse newspaper. “Nowadays I get phone calls about French people who arrive in the emergency room announcing that they want euthanasia.” At the Brugmann University hospital where Dr Vermylen works, seven out of 15 euthanasia cases last year involved French people. At the Jules Bordet institute, also in the Belgian capital, French people account for almost a third of euthanasia consultations - 40 out of 130 cases.


One attraction to those seeking euthanasia in Belgium is the cost. An assisted suicide in Switzerland costs €4,000. In Belgium euthanasia is usually free because the treatment is covered by the European Union’s health insurance card. The bills are sent to French healthcare providers.


Doctors say that French requests often increase after press coverage, such as the report last month about the Paralympic wheelchair sprint champion Marieke Vervoort, 37, who won gold and silver medals at the London 2012 Games. She is considering seeking euthanasia after competing in Rio next month.


The Belgian government has tried to play down the trend. A government health spokesman said: “A low number of euthanasias are actually practised on foreign patients, not more than dozens per year.”


Euthanasia, usually by a lethal injection administered by doctors, was made legal in Belgium on May 28, 2002. The law was extended in 2013 to allow the killing of children.

The Times. August 19.

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