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EU to weigh in on Belgian woman euthanized for depression

Alex Schadenberg Alex Schadenberg Follow Alex

January 11, 2018 (Euthanasia Prevention Coalition) – An Associated Press (AP) article by Maria Cheng is reporting that the European Court of Human Rights has agreed to hear a case that was filed by the son of a depressed Belgian woman who died by euthanasia.

Robert Clark, the lawyer for Tom Mortier, the son of Godelieva De Troyer, who was physically healthy but depressed when she died by lethal injection, stated in the AP article:

"This was a woman who was under the care of a psychiatrist and according to medical definition was a vulnerable person[.]" 

"The state had a duty of care to protect her and it failed."

According to the AP article:

The court said it would now consider whether Belgium had violated two parts of the European Convention on Human Rights in euthanizing Mortier's mother. 

Mortier's statement to the court alleges that Belgium failed to protect his mother's life and that there was no thorough or effective investigation into her death.

According to an article published in the Daily Signal in January 2015:

Mortier says neither Distelmans (who did the euthanasia) nor a psychiatrist he consulted to approve the life-ending procedure (also a close friend of Distelmans') had a previous involvement with his mother's health. 

In fact, De Troyer's treating psychiatrist of more than 20 years refused to help her die, maintaining that she did not satisfy the requirements of Belgium law. 

At first Distelmans agreed, and he too declined to help De Troyer end her life. But after she made a donation of 2,500 euro to Life End Information Forum, an organization he co-founded, Distelmans carried out De Troyer's request.

Canada is debating extending its euthanasia law to include people with psychiatric conditions alone. This case and the case of the Belgian doctors who were charged in the death of an autistic woman will likely influence the Canadian law.

Published with permission from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

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