News reports from a number of European sources say that Belgian twins, Marc and Eddy Verbessem died together utilizing Belgium’s euthanasia laws.
Belgium was the second country to pass euthanasia legislation after the Dutch in the early 2000s. In 2011, there were 1133 officially reported cases of euthanasia in Belgium. A 2007 study in the Flanders Region reported that only 52.8% of euthanasia cases were reported to authorities that year, which alone suggests that the real number of deaths is significantly higher.
The brothers sought euthanasia after learning that they would soon go blind; they feared institutionalization and the thought of not seeing each other. They were both born deaf and shared also some other medical conditions. They died together in December at the Brussels University Hospital.
One report suggested that it took the brothers ‘almost two years to find a medical institution to administer a lethal injection after being turned down by their local hospital.’ Doctor shopping is a significant problem in modern medicine; there’s no reason to believe that it is any different with euthanasia & assisted suicide. There will always be some medico who can rationalize this kind of behaviour.
Professor Wim Distelmans, who made the decision to euthanasia the twins, gave a startling defence of his actions:
"It's the first time in the world that a 'double euthanasia' has been performed on brothers," he said. "There was certainly unbearable psychological suffering for them. Though there is of course it always possible to stretch the interpretation of that. One doctor will evaluate differently than the other."
The twins’ parents and brother were reluctant to support their deaths initially, though they eventually gave in and went along with their wishes. Their brother, Dirk, who admitted trying to talk them out of their plans at the last minute, lamented that it could have been different: “I sometimes think, if they had their own wives and children, perhaps they would have had something to live for.” he said.
Increasingly the practice of euthanasia & assisted suicide is being extended for what are essentially social reasons. We have seen requests carried out for loneliness, double euthanasia of a couple who could not bear to be apart and now for a fear of not being able to see another person. No doubt these concerns are very real to the people themselves; but to acquiesce to death for such reasons is simply absurd. It’s not hard to imagine that the brothers coming to such a final conclusion but it should be beyond consideration that a doctor should act upon such a request.
What does the death certificate record as the cause of death? In some recent bills we have seen clauses that direct the doctor to lie – to record the death as being caused by the underlying complaint. Does loneliness and fear of not being able to see someone constitute a cause of death?
Clearly the Belgians don’t see the problem. Only days after the report of the death of these twins, Belgium’s Socialist leader, Thierry Giet, tabled an amendment to their law that would allow for euthanasia for children and for Alzheimer’s sufferers.
|Belgium Leader Thierry Giet|
"The idea is to update the law to take better account of dramatic situations and extremely harrowing cases we must find a response to," he said.
If passed, the amendment will allow euthanasia to be “extended to minors if they are capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate.” It is difficult to know whether this is a quote from the legislation or simply a short summary of the changes. If it is the former, the three phrases separated by the conjunction ‘or’ could be read to be mutually exclusive; rendering ‘capable of discernment’ as simply one possible consideration.
Last December the Belgium-based European Institute of Bioethics released a report citing “the absence of any effective control” and “ever-widening interpretation” of the Belgian law. IN over 10 years under the law, with over 5500 euthanasia cases reported, not one death has ever been referred to the police for investigation.
Belgium is out of control.