Europe’s Top Human Rights Court to Rule on Landmark Euthanasia Case

Mortier says that Belgium violated the European Convention on Human Rights for failing to adequately protect the right to life of his mother, who suffered severe mental difficulties and coped with depression throughout her life.

(photo: ADF International / ADF International)

GEHANDU, Tanzania — The European Court of Human Rights is set to rule in a landmark euthanasia case on Tuesday on whether Belgium wrongly allowed a woman to be euthanized by lethal injection on the grounds of “untreatable depression.” 

Tom Mortier is the son of Godelieva de Troyer, who died in 2012 after she had approached the country’s leading euthanasia advocate, who ultimately agreed to euthanize her despite being a cancer specialist.

Before her death by euthanasia at age 64, neither her son nor any family member was consulted, according to a statement by the Christan legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF International).

Mortier says that Belgium violated the European Convention on Human Rights for failing to adequately protect the right to life of his mother, who suffered severe mental difficulties and coped with depression throughout her life. 

“She was treated for years by psychiatrists, and sadly, she and I lost contact for some time. It was during this time that she died by way of lethal injection. Never could I have imagined that we would be parted forever,” he said. 

Over a period of just a few months, de Troyer made a financial payment to a Belgian euthanasia advocate’s organization. He referred her to see other doctors who were also part of the same association, despite a requirement for independent opinions in the case of individuals not expected to die soon, according to ADF International. 

The same doctor that euthanized her is also co-chair of the federal commission charged with approving euthanasia cases after the fact.

Countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands have been at the forefront of offering euthanasia and assisted suicide, and doctors who personally object to the practice must still refer patients.

Vincent Kemme, the founder of the Belgian bioethics organization Biofides, told EWTN News in September that his organization has observed a shift in recent years, especially in the low countries of Europe, away from conscience protections for the medical profession: 

“In Europe and the United States, the introduction of relativism and moral subjectivism has completely changed the profession of the doctor,” Kemme told EWTN News.

Under Belgian law, euthanasia is permissible when a “medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering” resulting from a severe and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident cannot be alleviated.

Over 27,000 people have died from euthanasia in Belgium since it was legalized 20 years ago, on May 28, 2002, according to the latest official data from Belgian authorities, ADF said.

Belgium’s law even allows minors of any age who are diagnosed as terminally ill to request euthanasia. Parental consent, as well as the agreement of doctors and psychiatrists, is required.

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