President of Flanders' largest health insurance fund wants euthanasia rules relaxed

The president of the Flemish health insurance fund Christian Mutualities (CM) has called for a radical solution to the problem of Belgium's ageing demographic. According to Luc Van Gorp, those who are tired of life should be given the opportunity to end it themselves, he told Het Nieuwsblad on Monday.

Belgium's ageing population is set to increase rapidly. The number of people over 80 will double by 2050, from around 640,000 today to 1.2 million. This will increase the financial pressure on healthcare, medication and residential care centres.

"No matter how much you end up investing, it will still not be enough"

Van Gorp believes that this ageing problem cannot be solved by spending more money. He argues that as many resources as possible should be spent on healthcare, provided it offers a better quality of life. "But no matter how much you end up investing, it will still not be enough. There are simply not enough health workers to do the job," he said.

'Giving back life'

That is why he is advocating "a radically different approach". He said we should not be asking "how long can I live", but "how long can I live a quality life" and advocates a gentler form of euthanasia for people who feel their lives are complete. Suicide, says Van Gorp, is too negative a term. "I would rather call it giving back life."

Van Gorp is the president of Belgium's largest healthcare provider. CM has more than 4.5 million members, 3.5 million of whom live in Flanders. Belgium is one of the few countries in the world where euthanasia is legal for those who are suffering unbearably.

Politicians were divided in their reaction to Van Gorp's statement. Flemish Interior minister Gwendolyn Rutten of the liberal Open VLD party is in favour of allowing euthanasia when people feel their lives are "over". Groen co-president Jeremie Vaneeckhout also agrees with Van Gorp: "Living with dignity and being able to grow old also means being able to die with dignity."

Meanwhile, Christian democrat leader Sammy Mahdi criticised the comments. "This makes me angry," he wrote on X. "If someone is tired of life and feels they are in the way or don't get visitors anymore, aren't we just failing as a society?"



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