There was outrage out of Belgium recently after news broke that a pair of Belgian twins were euthanized after learning they might be going blind. Now there’s more disturbing news. A Belgian woman suffering from depression was euthanized, leaving her son angry and wondering how this could be allowed to happen.
My mother suffered from chronic depression. Two years ago she broke off all contact with me. In April 2012 she was euthanased at the hospital of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (the Free University of Brussels).
I was not involved in the decision-making process and the doctor who gave her the injection never contacted me.
Since then, my life has changed considerably. Up until now, I am still trying to understand how it is possible for euthanasia to be performed on physically healthy people without even contacting their children. The spokesman of the university hospital told me that everything happened according to my mother’s “free choice”. After my mother’s death, I talked to the doctor who gave her the injection and he told me that he was “absolutely certain” my mother didn’t want to live anymore.
The death of my mother has triggered a lot of questions. How is it possible that people can be euthanased in Belgium without close family or friends being contacted? Why does my country give medical doctors the exclusive power to decide over life and death? How do we judge what “unbearable suffering” is? What are the criteria to decide what “unbearable suffering” is? Can we rely on such a judgment for a mentally ill person?
The equivalent to this would be finding a person who has suffered from chronic depression and is suicidal and, instead of getting help for someone obviously suffering from a mental illness, handing him a loaded gun. There is simply no excuse for what happened in this case.
When someone is vulnerable and needs help, they shouldn’t be handed death on a silver platter.