Cheryl Sullenger

Evidence shows notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller did iIlegal abortions for years

Cheryl Sullenger
By Cheryl Sullenger
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Topeka, KS, Feburary 27, 2012 (OperationRescue.org) – An Initial Order released by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts on February 21, 2012, revoking the medical license of abortionist Ann Kristin Neuhaus includes evidence showing that late-term abortionist George Tiller was doing illegal late-term abortions for at least seven years.

“If the evidence presented in Neuhaus’ case had been presented during Tiller’s criminal trial, there is no doubt that he would have been convicted of illegal late-term abortions,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation. “This shows that Tiller was doing illegal abortions based on phony mental health excuses for at least seven years.”

The revocation order is expected to be finalized by the full Board in April and is the result of a complaint filed in 2006 by this author.

Neuhaus provided the second referral that Tiller needed in order to legally justify the expensive post-viability abortions that were his specialty — and his bread and butter. Each referral issued by Neuhaus was based on a mental health diagnosis that she claimed justified the late-term abortions. She certified that each woman met the narrow legal exception to the Kansas law banning post-viability abortions, which allowed such abortions to be done only if there was the risk that the woman would suffer a “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” if the pregnancy continued.

However, the records show that Neuhaus was incompetent. She failed to conduct proper mental health evaluations on eleven patients that she referred to Tiller for post-viability abortions. Her diagnoses were a sham.

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In fact, Administrative Judge Edward J. Gaschler indicated that there is no evidence that Neuhaus ever personally evaluated the women beyond having them answer yes or no questions that were plugged into a computer program called PsychManager Lite, which automatically generated a diagnosis. For Patient #8, there was no evidence that Neuhaus ever saw her at all. The only information about the individual circumstances of each woman in Neuhaus’ patient records came not from her own observations, but from intake forms generated by unlicensed workers at Tiller’s clinic.

“Based upon the evidence, the Licensee [Neuhaus] simply completed yes/no questions and answers and whatever diagnosis the computer gave, she assigned that diagnosis. This method of practicing medicine does not meet the applicable standard of care,” wrote Judge Gaschler.

He concluded, “The care and treatment of the 11 patients in question was seriously jeopardized by the Licensee’s care.”

Suspicious dates reveal illegal abortions

In addition, the dates on some of Neuhaus’ computer-generated reports were indicators that late-term abortions were being done illegally.

For example, Neuhaus’s reports for Patients #2, #6, #9, #10, and #11 were all generated and time-stamped after the dates that these women’s abortions already began. Tiller’s records showed that Patient #10 had her initial appointment on October 4, 2003, yet Neuhaus’ diagnosis report is dated November 13, 2003, nearly six weeks after the abortion would have taken place.

For one file, that of Patient #5, the computer diagnosis reports were generated on August 7, 2003, but that date was crossed out and changed on the forms to August 12 and 13, 2003. The date that Tiller’s office indicated that Neuhaus had an appointment with Patient #5 was August 12, 2003. No explanation for the discrepancies was ever given.

“It appears that diagnoses were being generated after the abortions had already begun, which would have constituted a violation of the law,” said Newman. “One was generated ahead of time before Neuhaus had any opportunity to interview the patient. This only confirms the long-held belief that Neuhaus was rubber-stamping late-term abortions for Tiller without any sound medical basis so he could collect on the huge fees he charged for such abortions, which ranged in price from $5,000 to in excess of $18,000 depending on the circumstances.”

No basis for mental health diagnoses

In all patients, Neuhaus failed to perform mental health evaluations, review the patient’s medical and social history, or make any kind of proper examination. She made no notations that indicated she ever spoke to the patients beyond the yes/no questions asked by her PsychManager Lite program, which was essentially meant to be a teaching tool for students of psychiatry. The program contained cautionary statements that the program should only be used in conjunction with proper mental health evaluations by skilled professionals. Facts in the Neuhaus case showed she was neither skilled nor did she conduct proper evaluations.

Discussion at Neuhaus’ disciplinary hearing showed that one problem with the computer-generated diagnoses was that some of the questions were compound, which gave no indication to the patient’s true condition or state of mind. An example of this was one question that asked if the patient had experienced any weight gain or loss. If the answer was “yes” there was no way to know if the weight was gained or lost. Weight gain is normal and healthy in pregnancy, yet the computer would count that as an indicator of possible mental health issues.

“These diagnoses amounted to quackery,” said Newman. “The computer program could make normal and healthy conditions of late-term pregnancy such as weight gain, trouble sleeping, and lack of interest in participating in aggressive sporting activities, appear to be symptoms of mental illness. This was all to give the appearance that the abortions were medically justified, when in fact they were not.”

When Neuhaus’ computer programs conflicted in their conclusions, or when her conclusions differed from that on Tiller’s intake forms, she never attempted to determine which conclusion was the correct one. She simply ignored them.

Alleged suicidal ideation ignored

Neuhaus’ computer reports indicated that some patients were suicidal, yet there was not one bit of information in the reports on which to base such a diagnosis. Neuhaus never referred these women for counseling of any kind. The only referral they received was for a late-term abortion.

“If the Licensee sincerely believed that the patients were seriously mentally ill, it would seem likely that a treating physician would recommend treatment for these rather serious mental illnesses. Yet, the Licensee ignored these alleged mental illnesses,” stated Judge Gaschler.

Patient #10: Unintended pregnancies cause mental health disease?

Patient #10 was an 18-year old woman who was approximately 25 weeks pregnant. According to Tiller’s records, Neuhaus’ appointment with her was October 4, 2003. However, the computerized forms that indicated her diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder, Severe, was not generated until November 13, 2003, nearly six weeks after the abortion took place.

In order to qualify for that particular diagnosis, a patient must have “experienced witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to physical integrity.” Neuhaus recorded no such event that could have been the basis of the diagnosis for Patient #10.

Under questioning at Neuhaus’ disciplinary hearing, Neuhaus testified that the traumatic event in the patient’s life was the unintended pregnancy.

“This would lead to a conclusion that any unintended pregnancy causes the mental health condition of the pregnant woman to be Acute Distress Disorder,” wrote Judge Gaschler. “There is nothing in the patient file to support this. The Licensee did not document this in Patient #10’s file.”

Stipulation blocked this evidence in Tiller’s trial

On March 23, 2009, Neuhaus’ employer, George Tiller, faced opening arguments in his criminal trial on 19 counts of violating K.S.A 65-6703, a state law that at that time banned post-viability abortions unless the abortionist “has a documented referral from another physician not legally or financially affiliated with the physician performing or inducing the abortion and both physicians determine that: (1) The abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman; or (2) a continuation of the pregnancy will cause a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

On March 12, 2009, just 11 days before the trial, Asst. Attorney General Barry Disney entered into a stipulation agreement with Tiller’s lawyers that prevented the evidence from reaching the jury that was later presented in Neuhaus’ disciplinary case.

Disney stipulated that the medical necessity of the abortions was not in dispute because Neuhaus had given Tiller “documented referrals” after she determined that continuation of the pregnancy would cause “substantial and irreversible impairment” to the woman.

This effectively took Neuhaus’ incompetence and unsubstantiated, dubious diagnoses off the table, leaving only the matter of whether or not Neuhaus and Tiller enjoyed an improper financial or legal affiliation.

The jury never heard about the diagnoses made days or weeks after the abortions, or about the concerns that Neuhaus never reviewed patient histories or conducted proper mental health evaluations. They never knew about Patient #8, who was never seen by Neuhaus at all, yet was referred by her for an abortion without having made any recorded diagnosis. The term “PsychManager Lite” was never heard by the jury, nor the fact that the diagnoses used to justify otherwise illegal post-viability abortions were completely baseless and without proper documentation. They never heard Neuhaus’ outlandish theory that unintended pregnancies by default make women mentally ill.

In fact, Disney’s only witness for the prosecution was a very hostile and defiant Neuhaus who made sure everyone knew she resented being forced to testify against her friend Tiller.

It is no wonder that the jury found him “not guilty” in less than an hour. They were blocked from hearing the real evidence that crimes had been committed. Had the jury been allowed to hear the real facts in that case, which were heard by an Administrative Judge in the Neuhaus disciplinary hearings, there can be no doubt that guilty verdicts would have been reached, and history would have been altered.

“It is tragic to think that efforts to protect Tiller from legal accountability for his actions may have ultimately led to his demise,” said Newman.

Operation Rescue complaint placed Tiller’s license in jeopardy

Just moments after the jury read the “not guilty” verdicts in Tiller’s criminal trial, the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts announced that an 11-count petition against Tiller had been filed by them and would proceed despite the criminal verdicts. That petition was based on the same complaint filed by Operation Rescue that led to Neuhaus’ recent disciplinary action.

“If the Board was willing to revoke Neuhaus’ medical license on counts nearly identical to Tiller’s charges, it would also have revoked Tiller’s license as well,” said Newman. “Tiller’s murder just two months after his trial tragically prevented him from being brought to proper justice. His killer was frustrated by the erroneous belief that the system was broken and could not work. In fact, the system was working, despite efforts to subvert it.”

LeRoy Carhart, an abortionist who worked for Tiller, publicly stated that Tiller had announced his retirement to his staff just two weeks before his death. It appeared that Tiller may have been planning to retire his license rather than submit to Board discipline.

Truth leads to victory

There can be no doubt now that the bogus mental health diagnoses that were used to justify late-term abortions on paper were without basis and were concocted by Neuhaus in order to help Tiller circumvent the law. The post-viability abortions that Neuhaus referred to Tiller were done illegally. It has finally been proven through peaceful, legal means.

“Thankfully, Neuhaus’ quackery has been exposed and she will never do another abortion. Her medical license is currently restricted and her revocation order will soon be finalized, bringing to close the final chapter in the Tiller abortion crime spree that spanned four decades and victimized thousands of viable babies whose mothers came to Wichita for late-term abortions from every state,” said Newman. “This is a victory for every pro-life supporter in the country.”

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Lisa Bourne

Catholic Relief Services: We’re ‘proud’ that we don’t discuss faith

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

While some pro-life activists are criticizing Catholic Relief Services (CRS) after a high-ranking executive said last month that the agency is “proud” they do not discuss faith with the people they serve, CRS itself is defending the statement, saying it was misinterpreted. 

The controversy began when Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ vice-president for government relations and advocacy, told CNN’s Belief Blog, “We assist people of all backgrounds and religions and we do not attempt to engage in discussions of faith."

“We’re proud of that. We like to say that we assist everybody because we’re Catholic, we don’t assist people to become Catholic,” he added in the August 9 piece.

“We assist people of all backgrounds and religions and we do not attempt to engage in discussions of faith."

The statement drew criticism from Catholic pro-life and pro-family groups, who said the comments are another sign that the U.S. Bishops’ foreign relief agency has shed its Catholic identity and effectively operates as a secular NGO.

“How great is it that Catholic Relief Services is serving the poor and marginalized in dangerous areas of the world,” Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews. “Yet how sad that CRS spokespeople again boast that they do not preach the Gospel love of Jesus Christ, as a matter of policy.”

“This is so radically out of line with what Pope Francis has repeatedly said,” Father Boquet added, “and is something that Pope Benedict warned against in both Deus Caritas est and Caritas in Veritate.”

“For CRS to be ‘proud’ of the fact that it doesn't evangelize may help it to get grants from the federal government," said Steven Mosher, president of Population Research Institute. "After all, such activities are specifically forbidden to federal grantees. But it is an abdication of their responsibility as Catholics - really everyone's responsibility as Catholics - to spread the Gospel."

Michael Hichborn, director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith project, agreed.

“The bottom line is that there can be no division between charity and the work of evangelism,” he said.  “But CRS just stated that it is ‘proudly’ doing just that.”

Hichborn told LifeSiteNews he believes the statement highlights the fact that for CRS social works supersede evangelization.  

But in reality, he argued, charitable works “are the loving tools by which we evangelize. Any act to divorce evangelization from works of charity neuters the Church and relegates charity to mere philanthropy. Catholic Relief Services, by their own admission, is content to feed bodies and starve souls."

CRS responds to criticisms

Paul Eagle, CRS’ communications director, suggested that O'Keefe's statement was misunderstood, telling LifeSiteNews that their work is a clear example of not proselytizing, but preaching the Gospel through works.

“We are indeed proud that we witness the Church’s mission and the call of the Gospel to care for those in need, regardless of who they are or what they believe, through the work that CRS does every day,” he said. “This is a central part of the Church’s evangelizing mission, but it does not include proselytizing or requiring that people become Catholic to receive our assistance.”

Eagle told LifeSiteNews that CRS follows St. Francis of Assisi, who has been reflected in the leadership of Pope Francis. He pointed to a famous quotation that is often attributed to St. Francis, which goes, "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words."

“Our work is a clear example of not proselytizing, but preaching the Gospel through what we do,” Eagle said.

Eagle directed LifeSiteNews to a CRS web page which states that CRS “rejoices in” the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, and has grown in a deeper understanding of its mission through study and reflection on Benedict’s earlier encyclicals Deus Caritas Est and Spe Salvi

Eagle also pointed to the CRS initiative, “Impact Investing,” saying it contains a response to Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium.

Pro-life critics cite papal support

But Father Boquet said a policy banning discussions of faith or preaching the Gospel is clearly opposed to Catholic teaching on charity.

“This is a radical departure from how the Church has always understood her essential charitable and missionary work,” he said.

He quoted Pope Francis in his first homily as pope: “We can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord,” the pope said.

Pope Francis has repeated this theme several times, most recently in June of this year, said Father Boquet. At that time, “he said that the Church cannot just be a ‘well organized NGO,’ or just some institution with people who are ‘fans’ of being Catholic.”

Boquet and the other pro-life critics pointed out that several recent popes have written at length on the need for evangelization to remain at the heart of its charitable work.

“This is a radical departure from how the Church has always understood her essential charitable and missionary work."

In Evangelii Nuntiandi Pope Paul VI wrote that generous Christians are often tempted to reduce the Church’s mission to the realm of the temporal, downgrading it to be man-centered. The Holy Father said in that document that this reduction to a focus on material well-being would mean the Church would lose her fundamental meaning.

Pope Benedict XVI echoed this teaching in Deus Caritas Est, stating, "The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of man: it seeks his evangelization through Word and Sacrament."

In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict cited Pope Paul VI, writing that Christian charity is “part and parcel of evangelization,” because, “Jesus Christ, who loves us, is concerned with the whole person.”

Many CRS employees not Catholic

Mosher also highlighted Pope Benedict’s motu proprio titled ‘On the Service of Charity,’ which he said “is quite clear in that the work of Catholic charities should be grounded in the Mass and the Sacraments, which implies evangelization.”

The CNN Belief Blog article also reported that CRS “doesn't even like” to be labeled missionary because of the word's association with evangelizing, stating:

Though Catholic Relief Services says it is motivated by the Gospel to embody Catholic social and moral teaching, it does not preach to the people it helps.

In fact, you don't even have to be Catholic to work for Catholic Relief Services. Among its 4,500 workers are many Muslims, Hindus and members of other religions, said Bill O’Keefe, the organization’s vice president of advocacy.

Eagle told LifeSiteNews CRS is proud as a Catholic agency that it works collaboratively with all people regardless of faith, which is especially important in communities where the majority of people are not Catholic.

He added that CRS takes steps to ensure Catholic identity in preparing employees for work with CRS, referencing a tutorial, "Protecting Life,” which was reviewed by the USCCB.

At the same time, experience has shown that what CRS cannot account for is the personal opinions of its non-Catholic employees, which, according to Mosher, inevitably affect the way they perform their jobs. A May 2014 LifeSiteNews article reported on public campaign records showing that since 1990 CRS employees have donated tens of thousands of dollars, 98.1 percent of their political donations, to elect pro-abortion politicians to office.

LifeSiteNews has also reported on the fact that numerous CRS employees in key policy positions have in previous jobs advocated for activities that violate Church teaching.

For example, Daphyne Williams, who has worked for CRS since 2008 and helped to develop a controversial policy whereby CRS would provide “complete and accurate” information on condoms, was hired after working at a series of pro-abortion organizations. One, which she listed on her LinkedIn page until LifeSiteNews reported on it in 2012, was called Pro-Choice Resources.

In another more dramatic case, a CRS employee was charged and convicted after deliberately ramming her car into a crowd of pro-life activists at the March for Life.

“As far as the claim that they somehow ‘evangelize’ by not preaching the Gospel, by not hiring Catholics … this simply makes no sense,” Mosher told LifeSiteNews.

“They say that ‘they help people because they're Catholic.’ But CRS employees, including very senior employees, are often - as the organization itself proudly admits - not Catholic at all,” said Mosher. “So it is hard to take this defense seriously.” 

Mosher said that statements indicating CRS is proud that is does not evangelize raise the question of whether CRS's donors are being defrauded by an organization that claims to be "Catholic," but distances itself from the Church in its actual programs and practices.

“If Catholic Relief Services is not going to hire practicing Catholics, work through the local Catholic Church around the world, and preferentially serve Catholic populations,” Mosher said, “then it has no business calling itself ‘Catholic.’ For it is not. It is just another humanitarian NGO which can make no special claim on Catholics.”

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

,

Protecting marriage isn’t enough – we must oppose gay ‘civil unions’ too

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

Philippe Ariño, one of the original initiators of the French “Manif pour tous” rallies against the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in November 2012, is suggesting that opposition to the law and its probable developments needs to be coherent and complete if it hopes to be efficient. In a recent and widely-circulated article published on his blog, he writes that the objective must be to put an end to legalized “civil unions” as well.

Ariño, a non-practicing homosexual, left the “Manif pour tous” by March 2013, criticizing the movement’s figurehead, Frigide Barjot, for her stands on “homosexual love” and her insistence that civil unions were not only acceptable, but should benefit from a more favorable legal framework. Barjot herself was to be ousted from the organization for the same reason, but the “Manif pour tous” still takes care not to antagonize and avoids clear-cut condemnation of certain “homosexual rights” so as not to appear radical.

At the “Manif pour tous” summer university this weekend, leader Ludovine de La Rochère underscored the fact that the socialist government would certainly not reverse the same-sex “marriage” law, adding that it would be useless to demand its abrogation as long as Hollande and his government is in power.

"‘Marriage for all’ and [civil unions] form a whole, and the glue which holds them together is the belief in and the justification of homosexual identity and love."

Not so, argues Ariño. His warning in view of the group’s upcoming rally against “familyphobia,” gender ideology, surrogate motherhood, and artificial procreation for homosexuals on October 5 in Paris pleads for consistency. He gave permission to LifeSite to translate his text and publish its most significant passages.

“Why should we not limit ourselves to demanding the abrogation of the ‘same-sex marriage’ law – the few of us, that is, who are beginning to realize that we should demand it! – and why must we demand what is most necessary: the abrogation of the ‘PACS’?” he writes.

The PACS, or French “civil solidarity pact” is a civil union open to all, including homosexuals. It is slowly replacing normal marriage as it includes less obligations and can be dissolved unilaterally at any time through a bailiff’s letter.

Ariño calls it “totally illogical, unrealistic and useless, when opposing gender ideology, surrogate motherhood and even ‘marriage for all’ to do so without demanding the abrogation of the PACS, even if many will argue that “when asking too much you get nothing at all.”

“I would say on the contrary that it is because we did not make this minimal demand that we will find that everything will be imposed upon us one small step at a time! I’m telling them that it is they who are exaggerating and that they have not taken the full measure of the gravity of the PACS, and the 180° turn it is imposing on the whole world,” he answers.

Opposing civil unions mentally and in private is not enough, says Ariño, and remains a form of “cant”: “They have simply not understood the PACS and its symbolic impact; deep down they have justified it because they have found its ‘excrescence’ – same-sex ‘marriage’ – a ‘great deal worse’. ‘Marriage for all’ and PACS form a whole, and the glue which holds them together is the belief in and the justification of homosexual identity and love.”

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Ariño goes on to criticize the principle of public recognition of homosexual couples: “Civil union is the first-ever law in the world to have been based on people’s sexual orientation, it is the first homophobic law which reduces men and women to their so-called homosexual identity or practice, the first law to have established homosexuality as a society’s operating model. That is why it is extremely serious, perhaps even more serious than ‘marriage for all’, despite appearances and the invisibility of its ramifications (concerning parentage and marriage). It does no less harm than ‘marriage for all’ as its aim is symbolically identical: recognition/social justification of homosexual as a universal model of love, equal to any other.”

The “Manif pour tous” is often too “lukewarm,” he adds, more intent on defending a political standpoint than fully assuming its opposition to “marriage for all” in a non-partisan manner, and failing to understand the “symbolic and ideological relationship between civil union and ‘marriage for all,’”, or even the link between legalized same-sex “marriage” and surrogate motherhood.  For fear of being taxed with political extremism or homophobia, “these militants refuse visibly to appear as Catholics” and try to find “scapegoats” on their right or on their left. Ariño accuses them of fooling themselves into believing that politicians (like Nicolas Sarkozy) who are in favor of civil union will one day abrogate same-sex “marriage” or even oppose surrogate motherhood.

The figureheads of the “Manif pour tous,” whatever their “courage” and “goodwill,” and their “hopes of changing things gradually, from the inside,” do not understand the “gravity of civil unions,” thus abstaining from clear demands in the name of “realism, patience, political strategy, Hope, humility.” “It is better to make progress little by little than to ask for the impossible, they say – but who apart from them and their gay-friendly opponents is saying something is impossible?”

“Their method of ‘advancing step by step’ is not good in itself; besides, it is precisely the technique of our adversaries, showing that we are imitating them and losing sight of the realities of civil union, ‘marriage for all’ and homosexuality”, writes Ariño, accusing proponents of the method of a “lack of courage” and of “playing into their adversaries’ hands by artificially dissociating marriage from fertility, laws from those laws’ intentions, laws from their consequences.” “The PACS is but a piece of paper, a rubber check signed less than 15 years ago. But the majority of opponents to ‘marriage for all’ tremble like fledglings at the idea of being too radical – while it is precisely their lack of radicalism that doesn’t pay,” he concludes.

Philippe Ariño is a non-practising homosexual. As a Catholic, he advocates chastity, denouncing both homosexualist activism and the modern concept of “heterosexuality,” insofar as sexual union should only take place between a man and a woman in accordance with God’s plan for life-long marriage.

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Belgium approves euthanasia for rapist serving life sentence

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

Belgium’s Minister of Justice approved a euthanasia request Monday from a convicted rapist serving a life sentence.

The Brussels court of appeal will review the case September 29, but Belgian media report it is expected simply to record the existence of the agreement between the man and the government.

This would not be the first euthanasia of a Belgian prisoner – a terminally ill man who had already spent 27 years in jail was legally killed two years ago – but in the case of Frank Van Den Bleeken, the euthanasia request is being linked to the conditions of his imprisonment.

Van Den Bleeken, 50, has spent close to 30 years in prison. He was sentenced to life-long imprisonment for several counts of rape, one of them followed by murder. He has been declared irresponsible for these acts because of psychiatric disorders and does not want to be released from prison, considering himself to be “a danger for society.” Despite having repeatedly asked for psychiatric treatment, none has been forthcoming in the absence of any Belgian institution prepared to take up this sort of patient.

The convicted rapist says his psychological suffering is “intolerable” and it is on these grounds that three doctors decided last May that Van Den Bleeken should be entitled to euthanasia – even though he has also asked for a transfer to a Dutch institution where psychiatrically ill criminals receive adequate treatment and care.

He presented both demands to the minister of Justice via an emergency procedure. The Brussels appeal court decided that the minister, Maggie De Block, was not competent to order a transfer to the Netherlands but that she could decide to grant his request for euthanasia. The decision is being called a purely “medical” one by the minister who told the press that she confined herself to following the doctors’ opinion.

A previous euthanasia request made by Van Den Bleeken three years ago was rejected on the grounds that all had not been done to ensure that he would suffer less and that other options than death were available.

Now, even though it is clear that the prisoner would find more humane conditions of detention in nearby Holland, that he is conscious of the gravity of the acts he commits under the pressure of his mental illness, and that he is in need of medical care, the decision to make him die reads as a further trivialization of euthanasia in a country where an ever-increasing amount of psychological motives are being accepted to justify “mercy-killing.”

As in all the states of the European Union, the death penalty does not exist; it was abolished in Belgium in 1996. Rapists and murderers can find themselves sentenced to life-long sentences with no hope at all of ever being freed, a perspective which some find worse than death.

Since Van Den Bleeken’s story received media coverage, including a televised interview at the end of 2013, fifteen other prisoners have contacted the “UL-Team,” an information center for end-of-life questions, euthanasia expert Wim Distelmans told the media this Tuesday. He said those numbers are expected to rise. Distelmans is known for his support and active participation in cases of euthanasia for psychological reasons.

No date has been fixed for Van Den Bleeken’s death but his family has indicated that a doctor willing to perform the act has been found. Once the appeals court has given its ruling the prisoner will be allowed to leave the Turnhout prison where he is interned at present, and will be transferred to an unnamed hospital where he will be able to say goodbye to his family before receiving a lethal injection.

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