Christian democrats open to discussing euthanasia for people with dementia

In an unexpected move, the CD&V (Flemish Christian democrats) party has announced that it is open to discussing an extension of Belgium's euthanasia law, which would legalise euthanasia for people with advanced dementia.

The party, which has traditionally taken a conservative stance on ethical issues, said it is willing to discuss reviewing Belgium's euthanasia legislation and allowing euthanasia in cases of advanced dementia under strict conditions.

The announcement comes after the Open VLD (Flemish Liberals) party demanded on Tuesday that the Belgian Chamber of Representatives prioritise a bill to extend the euthanasia law before the next elections in June.

It was considered highly unlikely that Open VLD would succeed in getting the bill put to a vote, but the Christian democratic party's openness to discussing the issue makes this scenario more realistic.

Mental competence

Belgium's euthanasia law is one of the most liberal in the world, but it does not allow euthanasia for people with advanced dementia. In the later stages of dementia, patients are no longer considered mentally competent to choose euthanasia.

People with dementia face the choice of opting for euthanasia in the early stages of the disease or forgoing the option altogether

Currently, anyone requesting euthanasia in Belgium must be mentally competent and conscious when they do so. A living will or advance directive can also be drawn up in advance, but such a directive can only be carried out if the patient is no longer conscious.

People with dementia are therefore faced with the choice of opting for euthanasia in the early stages of the disease, when they are still judged to be mentally competent, or forgoing the option altogether. This means that people with dementia sometimes opt for euthanasia at a time when they could still have several good years ahead of them.

'Let's vote now'

Euthanasia for advanced dementia has been virtually off the agenda in Belgium in recent years, largely due to the reluctance of the Christian democrats. Now, a hundred days before the next elections, the CD&V seems to have made a U-turn.

"We do not want to leave the discussion about life and death to parties that have little or very wide moral boundaries," CD&V party leader Sammy Mahdi told Het Laatste Nieuws on Friday.

"Now things can move quickly"

The Flemish liberals are pleased with CD&V's newfound willingness to discuss the issue. "Everyone has the right to a dignified end of life. Even people with dementia. Glad that CD&V now also realises this," said Open VLD party leader Tom Ongena on X. "Now things can move quickly," he added.

"After 20 years of blocking, CD&V finally wants to allow euthanasia for dementia," said Freya Van den Bossche of the Vooruit party (Flemish Socialists) on X. "The proposals are in parliament. Let's vote now. Before CD&V turns its tail again," she said.

Mahdi said that his party would not simply approve an existing bill, but first wanted a thorough parliamentary debate on the conditions. "But as far as we are concerned, that debate can start tomorrow," he said.



#FlandersNewsService | CD&V leader Sammy Mahdi © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

Related news

Website preview
Euthanasia cases increase by 15 per cent
More than 3,400 patients underwent euthanasia in Belgium last year, an increase of 15 per cent compared to 2022, the Federal Commission for the...

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels