Three Belgian doctors go on trial for aiding woman in ending her life4 min read

-Kosha Doshi

Background-

            Euthanasia had been legalized in the year of 2002 in Belgian with rigid standards set across. Euthanasia was to be used in conditions only where there was a “serious and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident”. In no other circumstances was a Euthanasia to be granted. Three Belgian doctors have been accused of unlawfully poisoning a woman on the 27th of April, 2010.

            After euthanasia has been legalized a decade has passed with about 8752 cases reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. In the year 2003, about 235 euthanasia cases have been filed and 0.2 percent have been nationwide deaths. While in the year 2013, 1807 euthanasia cases were reported out of which 1.7 percent were deaths. Overall 69 percent were cancer patients and 63 percent were aged less than eighty years old.

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Current Issue-

            The trial of three Belgian doctors took place on Tuesday when they were suspected of having assisted in ending the life of a 38-year-old woman named Tine Nys. The trial was conducted in the northern part of the city named Ghent. The three Belgian doctors are accused of having violated the strict guidelines and norms set for Euthanasia. It had been observed that Nys’s condition was not falling under the category stated while legalizing Euthanasia.

            The charges against the three doctors were initiated when Nys’ two sisters, Lotte and Sophie lodged a complaint stating that the procedure for legalizing Euthanasia should not have been allowed further commenting on the amateurish manner of performance. The names of the three doctors have not been disclosed due to a few reasons but these are the same doctors who signed off Nys’ procedure. The three doctors were Nys’ general practitioner, the doctor which injected the lethal injection and her psychiatrist.

            Further insight into Nys’ background was provided by her sisters who stated that as a child Nys had suffered severe psychiatric problems even attempting to commit suicide. There had been no psychiatric treatment for a duration of 15 years and it was only a suffering and stress from her broken relationship rather than an incurable disease. Another detail of her diagnosis of Autism 12 months before her procedure came into the light where she had no treatment being done for the same.

            Lack of professionalism of the doctors caused immense issues as per the sisters. The doctor had compared the procedure to putting down a pet and having forgotten to bring the plaster to hold the needle in place. The doctors had asked his family members to assist in the procedure for holding her while the injection was being given. The death of Nys was witnessed by Lotte, Sophie and her parents after she had been injected for euthanasia.

Question of Law-

            Euthanasia had been legalized under specific circumstances and if not fulfilled was ought to not be performed. The patient needed to be legally competent and conscious while the request is voluntary, well-considered and repeated. The person undergoing euthanasia must be medically futile and in a condition of constant unbearable physical or mental suffering which is incapable of alleviation. It is a result of a serious and incurable disorder and caused by an illness or an accident. When a patient is not expected to die soon the doctor is expected to consult a second physician at least 1 month before requesting for an enthusiasm.

            In 2014 the law and conditions for providing euthanasia were extended to minors also. This filed case is a landmark case as first time there have been official charges against a practitioner after euthanasia had been first legalized. There had been a similar case in the Netherlands where a doctor had been accused of failing to have taken into consideration appropriate consent for the procedure for an Alzheimer case. But in that case, the doctor was acquitted due to having acted in good faith. An alike case was presented in the Dutch court where the doctor failed to consent a 74-year woman suffering Dementia who died in 2016.

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Conclusion-

            Since a complaint was filed for not following appropriate procedure and neglecting the serious conditions under which anesthesia can be granted. The jury selection began on Tuesday and it was lengthened since the case was highly sensitive and had gained publicity. The official indictment is intended to take place on Friday. The three doctors are scheduled to speak in public for the first time on Monday.

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