Legislation allowing euthanasia was first introduced ten years ago, under the government of Guy Verhofstadt (Flemish liberal). The first Verhofstadt government (1999-2003) saw a coalition of liberals, socialists and greens. The pioneering rules concerning euthanasia were introduced much against the will of the Christian democrats, who were on the opposition benches at that time.
Ten years later, the Christian democrats are part of the federal government, but the two MP's Marleen Temmerman and Myriam Van Lerberghe hope that the time is right to liberalize euthanasia. It should also be allowed for minors, people suffering from dementia or people who are permanently unconscious.
"Society is ready for this", Ms Temmerman argues. She claims that a big majority of the people agrees with her, especially when a patient previously indicated that he or she would like to escape from this life in these special cases mentioned above.
Ms Temmerman proposes that young people should be offered the opportunity to opt for euthanasia when they are still in perfect mental health. Their official declaration should also be valid for more than five years. Their proposal does not apply to babies or very young children though.
Only a small chance that the proposal will pass
It remains to be seen whether a majority can be found in parliament for the bill. This time, the Francophone socialists (PS) are against, especially where the bill focuses on children.
The Flemish Christian democrats are also opposed to the idea. The bill can count on the support of the Flemish liberals, but the liberal Senator Bart Tommelein says it's simple: "If the Flemish socialists can't convince their Francophone colleagues, there's not a big chance that the bill would pass."
He adds that the Flemish socialists should first convince the PS before coming out with their proposal.