An oncologist in Belgium delivered to a woman his final solution for depression over a lost relationship with a partner and distant relationships with her children: death.
And since the government approves, the European Court of Human Rights is being asked to review the facts of the case, which include a 2,500 euro donation from the woman to the doctor’s nonprofit Life End Information Forum the day before she was killed.
At issue is the euthanasia law in Belgium and whether the death of Godelieva De Troyer, who was not terminally ill, at the hands of oncologist Wim Distelmans was legal.
Distelmans facilitated De Troyer’s death under Belgium’s euthanasia law after determining she had “untreatable depression” in April 2012.
De Troyer’s own physician had rejected her request.
Now, her son, Tom Mortier, has filed a complaint with the help of ADF International with the human rights court.
Mortier argues the right to life and the right to family life are protected under the European Convention on Human Rights. Belgian law allows assisted suicide to be carried out if physicians have determined the person is experiencing “constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated.”
The petition to the court explains: “After his mother’s death, the applicant found her farewell letter which stated how much she had missed her children and grandchildren in addition to referring to the breakup with her partner. She indicated feelings of helplessness, sadness and frustration at having not built a bond with her children.
“In the circumstances, it is therefore understandable that the possibility of contacting her children was discussed with her a number of times. Given that the applicant’s mother refused her permission for her children to be contacted, the physicians had a duty to refuse consent for euthanasia,” the petition states.
“Because the suffering of the appellant’s mother was partly caused by her loneliness and the lost contact with her children and grandchildren, it seems that contact with the children is essential in order to establish that she was in a medically hopeless situation having constant and unbearable suffering that could not be healed. By her own refusal to address part of the reason for her condition, she placed herself outside of the provisions of the Belgian law which requires ‘constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated.'”
WND reported in 2014 that Mortier found out about his mother’s death when the doctor called to ask him for final arrangement instructions, since he had just killed the “depressed” woman.
The next year, Belgian courts were told by ECHR to review the circumstances of the euthanasia.
ADF International said the decision of the human rights tribunal can affect the rights of more than 800 million Europeans in 47 nations.
“The big problem in our society is that we have apparently lost the meaning of taking care of each other,” said Mortier. “My mother had a severe mental problem. She had to cope with depression throughout her life. Psychiatrists treated her for years, and eventually the contact between us was broken. A year later, she received a lethal injection. Neither the oncologist who administered the injection nor the hospital had informed me or any of my siblings that our mother was even considering euthanasia. I found out a day later when the hospital contacted me to ask me to take care of the practicalities.”
When Belgium first adopted euthanasia, government officials promised it would be well regulated. But after 15 years, the number of annual cases has exploded 760 percent.
The country went further still in 2014 by allowing the procedure to be done to children.
“Cases of worsening eyesight, hearing, and mobility have been considered ‘unbearable suffering’ for the purposes of qualifying patients for doctor-prescribed death in Belgium. Lawmakers have proposed limiting freedom of conscience and silencing doctors who are opposed to carrying out the killing of such patients. Most recently, in the Netherlands, a proposed bill would allow euthanasia simply for being ‘tired of life,'” ADF International said.
ADF International Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke, who represents Mortier before the European court, said society will be judged by how it cares for the most vulnerable.”
“International law has never established a so-called ‘right to die.’ On the contrary, it solidly affirms a right to life – particularly for the most vulnerable among us,” he said.
Clark said the “slippery slope is on full public display in Belgium, and we now see the tragic consequences.”
“More than five people per day are killed in this way, and that may yet be the tip of the iceberg. Belgium has set itself on a trajectory that, at best, implicitly tells its most vulnerable that their lives are not worth living,” he said.
Further complicating the Distelmans case is the fact that the commission that determines whether or not there is improper behavior in such a case is co-chaired by Distelmans.
“Wim Distelmans is a leading campaigner for euthanasia in Belgium and has been variously described in the media as ‘a long-time crusader for euthanasia’ and as ‘having gained notoriety after [being] shown on TV ending the life of … a transsexual who asked to die after doctors botched his sex change therapy.'”
The petition states, “It is submitted that it is completely improper for the same man who carried out a euthanasia to chair the board that is established to investigate its compliance with the law.”
The petition contends Belgium violated the woman’s right to life by failing to take steps required to safeguard the lives of vulnerable citizens.
Further, it failed to protect Mortier’s rights by refusing to contact family members.
“The World Medical Association has consistently and categorically refused to condone or accept the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide as a justifiable medical activity,” it argues.