Belgian lecturer blames the euthanasia law for the death of his depressed mother
Editor’s note. The following was sent out Thursday by the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice
Dr. Tom Mortier, PhD, lecturer of chemistry at University College Leuven in Belgium, critiqued the Belgian euthanasia law at a press conference in Montreal. On April 20, 2012, he learned from the hospital without prior notice that his mother at the age of 64 was euthanized the previous day by a lethal injection at the Hospital of the Free University of Brussels. His mother did not suffer an incurable disease like cancer or a neurodegenerative disease such as Lou Gehrig’s disease. She suffered from chronic depression.
The euthanasia death was carried out by an oncologist on the recommendation of a single psychiatrist. Other psychiatrists did not concur with the poor prognosis of her condition or agreed to her request. The family has been overwhelmed by the death. It should be noted that Mrs. Lieve De Troyer, was a retired teacher who loved to travel. She had experienced significant losses in the past: she was widowed after the suicide of her husband, and later suffered a breakup in a long-term relationship that precipitated again her depression.
Dr. Tom Mortier and his family are not the only victims of a law that provides access to euthanasia for people with terminal illnesses, but also to those affected by depression, loss of memory, and anticipated diseases. Currently before the Belgian Senate, a law is being proposed to extend euthanasia to disabled children and those losing their autonomy. Dr. Paul Saba, of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice denounced not only the countries and states in the United States who practice euthanasia, but also the Quebec government which is currently promoting Bill 52 which has many similarities with Belgian law.
“All societies that allow euthanasia promote death and safeguards consistently fail. International studies show that informed consent is not always respected, reporting mechanisms are being ignored and patients with mental health problems do not receive psychiatric treatment that they need.” In fact, according to Dr. Paul Saba, Quebec is currently promoting euthanasia as a cheap alternative to palliative care which is currently accessible to only about 20% of the population. Unfortunately, 80% of patients who need palliative care do not have the strength and stamina to demand additional investments that would allow them to finish their lives without suffering and with dignity.