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January 2013

Euthanasia – Brothers choose death over blindness

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Stuff.co.nz 15 Jan 2013
Two identical and deaf Belgian brothers have been euthanised after the inseparable middle-aged pair found out they were going blind and would never see each other again.
Marc and Eddy Verbessem were 45. They lived and worked together; and last month they died together after a Belgium hospital accepted their request to be euthanised. Belgium is one of three countries where euthanasia is legal for non-terminally ill patients.
The brothers feared they would lose their only way of communicating with each other after learning they were going blind, The Telegraph reported. They said goodbye to their parents and brother last month before both being euthanised by lethal injection, the week.co.uk reported. Another hospital had earlier denied the men’s request to be euthanised, but Professor Wim Distelmans, who accepted their request, said they met the criteria – in that they must be in unbearable physical or psychological pain. …..The decision to euthanise the men was not accepted by the first hospital or by Chris Gastmans, professor of medical ethics at the Catholic University of Leuven. Gastmans said he was concerned for the wider implications for the welfare of disabled people, the Telegraph reported. ”I will not enter the legal discussion but I am left with questions,” he said. ”Is this the only humane response that we can offer in such situations?
I feel uncomfortable here as ethicist. Today it seems that euthanasia is the only right way to end life. And I think that’s not a good thing. In a society as wealthy as ours, we must find another, caring way to deal with human frailty.” There were 1133 cases of euthanasia in Belgium last year. It is legal only for those aged over 18 but the Government is considering extending it to children and those suffering from Alzheimer’s, The Telegraph reported.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/8178942/Brothers-choose-death-over-blindness