Three Belgian doctors on trial after assisting woman with euthanasia
Tuesday, 14 January 2020
It is assumed that the trial will reopen the discussion about euthanasia for people experiencing psychological suffering. Credit: Pexels
For the first time in Belgium since the 2002 Euthanasia Act was introduced, three doctors have been accused of poisoning a woman they helped to commit euthanasia in 2010.
The doctor who administered the euthanasia, Nys’ general practitioner and a psychiatrist from Ghent, all three of who gave their approval, will be on trial for ‘poisoning’. Theoretically, they could be sentenced to a lifetime in prison.
They will appear before a people’s jury in the Court of Ghent for helping euthanise Tine Nys, a 38-year-old woman with psychological issues, on 27 April 2010.
Nys requested euthanasia for “unbearable psychological suffering”. She had suffered a difficult childhood with severe psychiatric problems, had made several suicide attempts, and had a history of long hospitalisations, reports VRT. On Christmas Day 2009, she went to the family doctor, and talked about euthanasia for the first time. Four months later, the euthanasia was performed.
Six months after Nys’ death, her sisters filed a complaint with the investigating judge in Dendermonde in the East Flanders province, as they believed the 2002 Euthanasia Act had not been followed correctly.
However, the Federal Commission for Euthanasia Control and Evaluation, which always has to assess whether all conditions were met after a death by euthanasia, unanimously agreed that everything had happened according to procedure.
The family appealed against the decision and the case was reopened in November 2018. The Chamber of Indictment ruled that there were ‘”sufficient indications that the conditions had not been complied with,” and referred the case to the people’s jury of the Ghent Court of Assizes, reports De Morgen.
It is assumed that the trial will reopen the discussion about euthanasia for people experiencing psychological suffering, as the rather liberal 2002 Act has been fiercely criticised ever since it was introduced.