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Don’t Get Old In Belgium

Run, Haddock, run! (catwalker/Shutterstock)

Tintin’s aging companion Captain Haddock had better watch his back. The Belgian daily Le Soir reports (in French; this is the translation from DeepL, which is usually better than Google):

This is stunning news: according to several studies conducted at the Federal Centre for Healthcare Expertise (KCE), the King Baudouin Foundation and the Heart of Inami (in a secret report), 40% of Belgians (and more Flemings than Walloons) are seriously considering maintaining the balance of social security “by no longer administering costly treatments that prolong the lives of those over 85”.

We can guess the next step: we would quickly have a two-tier medicine, between patients who have to settle for social security and those who can afford to pay for unreimbursed drugs or operations to which they would no longer have access. In the Netherlands, there is already no longer any pacemaker placed at over 75 years of age — the device far exceeds the patient in terms of functional expectancy.

By comparison, only 17% say they no longer want to reimburse the costs of illness or accident resulting from personal behaviour (smoking, obesity), a solution against which 46% of Belgians are opposed. Much more than the 35% who oppose stopping life-saving care for the elderly.

Moreover, the group’s solidarity is highly dependent on the patient’s perspectives. Thus, while 69% of Belgians consider it legitimate to spend 50,000 euros on a life-saving treatment, only 28% of them maintain this opinion if the patient is over 85 years old. In the case of a cardiac device, the two groups balance each other (50%-40%). And if the person is in a coma and the treatment only brings one year of life, three Belgians out of ten agree, except among those over 85 years of age, half of Belgians believe that “this must never be possible, whatever the age”. Dutch-speakers are much more likely to exclude people over 85 from more expensive care. “These percentages in favour of exclusion are shocking,” notes Professor Elchardus, who conducted the survey for the Inami.

Let the old die. They are a burden on the system. Such is the view of an astonishing number of Belgians today. Do you really think it’s going to take much to convince them that it’s better to euthanize the elderly involuntarily than to simply let them die? They already euthanize children in Belgium, and a dementia patient who had not requested euthanasia was put to death by doctors at the request of her family.

Don’t get old in Belgium. That’s my advice to you.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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