J Med Ethics 35:436-439 doi:10.1136/jme.2008.026799
  • Law, ethics and medicine
    • Paper

Belgian euthanasia law: a critical analysis

  1. R Cohen-Almagor
  1. Professor Raphael Cohen Almagor, The University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull HU6 7RX, UK; r.cohen-almagor{at}
  • Received 23 July 2008
  • Revised 6 January 2009
  • Accepted 18 February 2009


Some background information about the context of euthanasia in Belgium is presented, and Belgian law on euthanasia and concerns about the law are discussed. Suggestions as to how to improve the Belgian law and practice of euthanasia are made, and Belgian legislators and medical establishment are urged to reflect and ponder so as to prevent potential abuse.


  • Competing interests: None.

  • Provenance and Peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • i The difference between the figures can be explained by the fact that the latter figure, 3.8%, relates only to general practitioners.

  • ii Mortier said that several opinion polls indicated that 85% to 93% of the public supported the enactment of euthanasia law (personal communication; interview, 14 February 2005).

  • iii The bill was on the website of the Belgian senate ( under the number 2–244/23) but is no longer available.

  • iv See also JAMA, vol 290, no 18, 12 November 2003, devoted to pain and pain management.