Behind his friendly smile, Jacqueline Herremans barely concealing his anger. The president of the belgian Association for the right to die in dignity (ADMD) expresses his exasperation in the face of what it sees as the inefficiency of the French government vis-à-vis euthanasia. A passivity in which that lawyer, as the belgian medical, claims to pay the fees. In Belgium, euthanasia is allowed under certain conditions since 2002. The association of Jacqueline Herremans advises and guides applicants to consultations of end-of-life or specialized services for the pathologies to which they are assigned. Never to physicians, for ethical reasons. On his desk, the dossiers of request for foreign patients is growing. Many do not meet the conditions necessary to obtain it. And more and more often, these are French requests.
The Point : How many French are now requesting euthanasia in Belgium ?
Jacqueline Herremans is the president of the belgian association for the Right to die in dignity (ADMD).
© Loreline Merelle for "The Point"Jacqueline Herremans : a Lot ! More than three-quarters of the requests that we receive in our association from abroad are the French. In 2017, on a total of 464 applications, 354 were from France. And this is only a small part of the whole. Some are directly targeted to doctors that they know through word-of-mouth. It also happens that doctors in French we are sending patients out of desperation. Since euthanasia publicized writer French Anne Bert in Belgium, applications are exploding. People say : “Why not me ? “
also Read Anne Bert : “I have a right to an easy death”
Why is this a problem ?
We are exhausted. I get calls from doctors telling me they can’t do anything more. Some have questions about the long-term management of the phenomenon. The university hospital brussels Brugmann has decided not to follow the foreign patients. The hospice nurse who receives the call for the consultation appointment to the end of life was literally at the end of the nerves, strength to hear everything and anything. Because of the French requests are more outlandish and more extreme than the claims of belgium.
That is to say ?
Some think they can get euthanasia without medical reason, and evoke a fatigue of living. Others anticipate the future, they say that they do not present a serious disease, but that in the event of an accident they will be able to more easily appeal to a belgian doctor. And your minister of Health, Agnes Buzyn, does not help us in claiming that it is possible to obtain euthanasia in the claimant three times in Belgium, even without presentation of disease…
This is not the case ?
No ! I don’t know where come from his sources, but this is not corroborated neither by the law nor by the practice ! It is important to know that there are clear conditions to complete. The patient’s request must be voluntary, well considered and without any external pressure. It must be a state of suffering, whether physical or psychological. Suffering unappeasable caused by a medical condition, serious and incurable. Two-thirds of requests for euthanasia are made by cancer patients, often terminally ill. Other patients are suffering from the lou gehrig’s disease or multiple sclerosis. A lot of applications of aliens were related to mental disorders. And this is typically the requests that are denied, because it requires knowledge of the patient, to check if all the treatments that are have been tempted. These requests may not receive a positive response that after a procedure a year or more. The patient must reside in Belgium.
there’s a lot of rejection ?
I can’t answer you with precision. What is certain, is that this is not gaiety of heart, that our doctors welcome these requests. I remind you : this are not professionals of euthanasia, but of health professionals. Belgium should not be the solution. Each application requires time, a follow-up. It is necessary to begin a therapeutic relationship with a patient they do not know. And the emotional burden is heavy. Myself, I have followed a few cases, including that of a patient French who came from Provence, Rinélya. She was 37 years old and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was a girl full of life. [Jacqueline Herremans pulls out a Polaroid]. When the photo was taken, we stood in a restaurant to meet one of his last wishes. She was hospitalized the first time for a whole week in Belgium. When she decided the day of the euthanasia, his entire family accompanied him on his last journey to Brussels. She wanted to visit the Grand-Place. I am transformed into a guide. Today, I’m still in contact with his mother. Be in front of a patient who says to you : “I want to die with my eyes open “, that is something. And we find ourselves faced with this dilemma : protect at all cost our law… and our doctors, or to accommodate these requests by humanity.
In France, the law Claeys-Leonetti authorize the doctor to relieve the patient’s pain in the end of life. The patient French that you mention, Rinélya, wasn’t she in this category ?
She did not dare to ask for a sedation terminal, because she already knew the answer. The law Leonetti, whatever its version, would not have been able to respond to her situation. He would have said that it does not fulfil the conditions for obtaining sedation terminal. I have known a patient with cancer of stage 4. She was asked to deep sedation several times. It was refused to him. Too early, according to his doctor. She gathered his last forces to come to Belgium. Request euthanasia in addition to-Quiévrain, it is even harder for these patients. They die far from home, in the hospital, following a lengthy procedure and difficult. But, at bottom, this is the case of some of those responsible for French. It is a way of not taking the problem head-on-body.
also Read Euthanasia : “We must be free to choose his fate.”
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