Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blind Twins Euthanized

Excerpted from "Deaf twins who discovered they were going blind and would never see each other again are euthanized in Belgian hospital," Daily Mail, by James Rush and Damien Gayle. January 14, 2013--A pair of identical twins, who were born deaf, have been killed by Belgian doctors after seeking euthanasia when they found out they would also soon go blind. In a unique case under the country's euthanasia laws, the 45-year-old brothers, from Antwerp, chose death as they were unable to bear the thought of never seeing one another again. They were euthanized by doctors at Brussels University Hospital, in Jette, on December 14 by lethal injection after spending their entire lives together.

Euthanasia is legal under Belgian law if those making the decision can make their wishes clear and are suffering unbearable pain, according to a doctor's judgment. In Belgium, some 1,133 cases of euthanasia - mostly for terminal cancer - were recorded in 2011, about one percent of all deaths in the country, according to official figures. But this case was unusual as neither twin was suffering extreme physical pain or was terminally ill. David Dufour, the doctor who presided over the euthanasia, told RTL television news the twins had taken the decision in 'full conscience'.

Belgium was the second country in the world after the Netherlands to legalize euthanasia in 2002 but it currently applies only to people over the age of 18. Other jurisdictions where it is permitted include Luxembourg and the U.S. state of Oregon. Just days after the twins were killed Belgium's ruling Socialists tabled a legal amendment which would allow the euthanasia of children and Alzheimer's sufferers. The draft legislation calls for 'the law to be extended to minors if they are capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate.' The proposed changes are likely to be approved by other parties, although no date has yet been put forward for a parliamentary debate. Full story can be found here.

Dr. Andre' Van MolCMDA Member, Moral Revolution Board member and “Ask the Doc” blogger Andre' Van Mol, MD: “Physicians at Brussels University Hospital euthanized these adult brothers due to impending blindness, not terminal cancer or unbearable pain. They were described as 'very happy' and with '‘relief’ to see the end of their suffering' when they were not suffering, but living as they had for decades. This is where disabled rights groups correctly see trouble ahead, when common disabilities are relabeled as needless and easily terminated suffering – lives not worth living.
"In his 1949 paper 'Medical Science Under Dictatorship,'1 Boston psychiatrist Leo Alexander wrote, '. . . Medical science in Nazi Germany collaborated . . . It started with the acceptance of the attitude basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived. . .' He called this 'the infinitely small wedge-in lever' which got this mindset rolling, 'the attitude towards the nonrehabilitable sick.' Even without dictators, soon the right to die to becomes the expected duty to do so in the name of the common good and fiscal bottom line.

"The swath of people targeted for euthanasia (or 'aid in dying,' its recent and benign-sounding label)2 is ever expanding. The article claims 1 percent of all deaths in Belgium are now by euthanasia. Dutch palliative care physician Dr. Ben Zylicz warned the British House of Lords, 'If you accept euthanasia as a solution to difficult and unresolved problems in palliative care, you will never learn anything.'3
"A grand benefit of the end of life is the opportunity to make relationships right – with God and people. It is precisely the realization of mortal life’s impending end that can lead people to softened hearts, opened minds and receptive spirits. Euthanasia kills the last chance for the new birth in Christ.

"There is a conflict of interests between palliative care and euthanasia, aka aid in dying: doctors cannot be both patient advocates and executioners. Compassion means coming alongside and suffering with, not offing people for defects. Terminal patients need pain control, companionship and often anti-depressants, but not doctors deeming them better off dead."
1. NEJM, 241:39-47, July 14, 1949.
2. Van Mol, A. “Premature Termination of Life Is Not Palliative Care.” CHEST. 2013;143(1):279a-279. doi:10.1378/chest.12-2187
2. “Better palliative care could cut euthanasia” Hugh Matthews, BMJ 1998;317:1613 (12 December) News.

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