Bioethics News

Euthanasia, killer serving a life sentence claims finally rejected

Euthanasia has been granted to a prisoner condemned to life imprisonment in Belgium but it has been cancellated because  “the decision of doctors treating Frank Van Den Bleeken to no longer continue the euthanasia procedure”,  said Koen Geens, the Belgian justice minister . “The Telegraph, 06 Jan 2015). Instead the killer, who is serving a life sentence will be transferred to a psychiatric prison. The ethical objection of the  doctors attending the prisioner saved Frank Van Den Bleeken from death.

Frank van den Bleeken is a Belgian prisoner who was condemned to life imprisonment when he was 20 years old for the rape and murder of a young 19-year-old woman. Now 50-years-old, van den Bleeken does not suffer physical pain, nor is he in the terminal stage of any illness. However, after spending three decades in prison, he considers that his life is not worth living, and for this reason requested euthanasia, arguing unbearable mental anguish.

The Telegraph said, “The prisoner condemned to life imprisonment has requested – and finally obtained – that he be released early by euthanasia from a life that he considers meaningless and which brings him only mental anguish but Professor Wim Distelmans, a Belgian cancer specialist and prominent advocate of euthanasia, earlier this year pulled out of the lethal injection procedure because of the possibility of Dutch psychiatric treatment for van den Bleeken. “I decided to no longer act as attending physician for the euthanasia because I believe certain legal due diligence has not been respected,” he wrote in the De Morgen newspaper, “For Frank there is palliative care just across the border and it’s cheaper [than care for cancer patients], but there is no political will.”euthanasia is repaced by palliative care
In our opinion, this case shows the alternative between euthanasia and palliative care is decisive.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.