Study lays out complications of ‘death with dignity’ in Belgium

By August 19, 2015 Recent News

LifeSiteNews 18 August 2015
A study published recently in the British Medical Journal sheds light on the practice of euthanasia of patients with psychiatric disorders in Belgium, as seen by medical specialists who intervene in the process. The findings are chilling: of the 100 cases studied – all mentally ill patients who requested euthanasia in recent years – 48 led to acceptance of the requests, and “mercy killing” took place for 35 patients in total. In all cases, the patients were not otherwise gravely ill, and they were certainly not in a terminal condition.
The study’s main author, Lieve Thienpont, had a key role insofar as she was personally responsible for conducting interviews with the 100 psychiatric patients in Flanders who had already made their death wish known, in order to confirm their diagnosis and to evaluate their degree of suffering, which under Belgian law must be “unbearable” and “untreatable.” She is the author of a book aimed at the general public, Libera me, about psychiatric suffering and euthanasia published earlier this year; she is also the psychiatrist who gave Laura, 24, a healthy woman with suicidal thoughts, a positive opinion for euthanasia. Her case was discussed here by LifeSiteNews.
As a “LEIF” doctor, Lieve Thienpont is part of a Life End Information Forum, which trains doctors with regard to the Belgian euthanasia law, palliative care, and end-of-life decisions in Flemish Belgium and Brussels. She has been practicing in this capacity since 2007.
Other authors of the BMJ study include pro-euthanasia law practitioner Tony Van Loon, who is Thienpont’s life partner, as well as Professor Wim Distelmans, who has been actively involved in Belgium’s most controversial euthanasia cases.
This explains that the study is in no way critical of the practice of accepting euthanasia for mentally ill patients so long as they are deemed capable of making an independent and fully informed decision.