Belgian Doctor Cleared of Murder Charges after Euthanizing 88-year-old, Non-Terminally-Ill Woman
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
BRUSSELS, December 9, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Belgian judge has decide not to prosecute a doctor specializing in euthanasia after he was accused of murdering a woman who came to him seeking death, but who was not terminally ill.
Dr. Marc Cosyns of Ghent euthanized the 88-year-old woman on January 5, 2008 after her own doctor had opposed the request for euthanasia. It was reported that the woman had an incurable disease that was not terminal and suffered from several other ailments.
The woman's son filed a complaint with the public prosecutor after he learned of Dr. Cosyns part in his mother's death.
Upon hearing of the judge's refusal to hear the charge of murder against him, Dr. Cosyns reportedly said, "I am very pleased that the right of the patient has been secured."
"There is still misunderstanding, among patients and family members, about euthanasia in cases of a non-terminal condition, but it is possible," he added.
In 2002, Belgium passed a law allowing euthanasia on newborns and terminally ill patients suffering "constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain."
Those over 18 years of age must issue a written request and a third doctor's opinion must be sought if their illness is not terminal. A one-month waiting period is mandatory for patients suffering from depression.
However, numerous reports indicate that the actual practice of euthanasia in Belgium disregards the "safeguards" attached to the law.
Lionel Roosemont, who spoke at the Second International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide held in May of this year and hosted by Canada's Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, noted that, "We have a huge problem with lawlessness," in Belgium, and that silent acceptance of euthanasia in his country has led to unspeakable routine abuse.
Roosemont claimed that the law is commonly transgressed "without there being any consequences."
Roosemont cited a 2006 report in the medical magazine Huisarts, written by Dr. Marc Cosyns - whom he called the "Kevorkian" of Belgium - stating that Cosyns had euthanized a woman suffering from dementia. Although the procedure was patently illegal - not only was the woman not terminally ill, but she was not fully lucid and had not given written consent - Cosyns was not punished.
While the loose application of euthanasia restrictions is widely known among Belgians, said Roosemont, the true depth of abuse is little understood. One such abuse he claimed occurs routinely is the administration of lethal drugs at one Belgian hospital to elderly, seriously ill patients - known as the "weekend cleanup" - as described to him by a nurse who worked there.
Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, who is currently spearheading the fight against the introduction of euthanasia legislation in Canada, pointed out that "the issue of euthanasia is not about terminal illness, it is not about individual autonomy, it is not about suffering. It is about ending life based on individual autonomy or ending lives that are not worth living."
"In other words. You can't have a little bit of euthanasia because if it is deemed to be a 'good action' then why wouldn't it be 'good' for everyone? Once a society has accepted the killing of one group of people for a set of circumstances, then what will stop that society from accepting the killing of all groups of people for similar circumstances?"
Read related LSN articles: