Bioethics News

Another euthanasia scandal in Belgium

Tine Nys (centre) with her sisters  

Another euthanasia scandal in Belgium. Two sisters have complained on a television program, Terzake, about the euthanasia of their sister in April 2010. Tine Nys was 37 at the time and had broken up with her live-in boyfriend. On Christmas Eve 2009 she announced that she was going to be euthanased.

What horrified her sisters, Lotte and Sophie, was the callousness of the doctors involved and how little interest they had in persuading her to live. They described it to the Terzake journalist as an act of “perverse” cruelty.

Belgium’s euthanasia law allows people to request euthanasia if they have unbearable psychological suffering. Tine was diagnosed with autism. The sickness from which euthanasia candidates are suffering is supposed to be incurable, but the doctors made no effort to treat her.

The day of her death was immensely distressing for the family. The doctor was so incompetent that he failed to bring bandages and he even described Tine’s death as “a lethal injection administered to a favourite pet to end its suffering”. The three doctors who approved the euthanasia had not communicated with each other.

The paperwork was not done within the required time but the Belgian euthanasia commission still approved the doctor’s handiwork.

“I hope this was bad luck, but I fear that this is not an isolated case,” said Joris Vandenberghe, a Flemish psychiatrist told Terzake. “This is really very worrying. “The bar for euthanasia should be higher.”

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence.

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.