Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Euthanasia on trial

Euthanasia | European court takes case from Belgium
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 1/14/19, 04:05 pm

The European Court of Human Rights agreed last week to hear from Tom Mortier, a Belgian man who says doctors misused the country’s euthanasia law when they killed his mother in 2012.

Godelieva De Troyer requested euthanasia in 2011 from her psychiatrist of 20 years after a breakup with a romantic partner. When the psychiatrist said her depression was treatable and refused to approve her request, she contacted other doctors. Another psychiatrist, Lieve Thienpont, approved her request, and Wim Distelmans, an oncologist and a leading proponent of euthanasia in Belgium, carried it out.

“[De Troyer] was under the care of a psychiatrist and according to medical definition was a vulnerable person,” said Robert Clarke, the director of European advocacy for ADF International, the global branch of Alliance Defending Freedom. “The state had a duty of care to protect her, and it failed.”

De Troyer donated $2,860 to Distelmans’ organization, Life End Information Forum, shortly before he euthanized her by lethal injection. Incidentally, Thienpont is under investigation in the hasty euthanasia of Tine Nys in 2010.

Mortier said doctors never contacted his mother’s children to inform them of her intentions. He only heard from the hospital after her death.

In its appeal to the high court on behalf of Mortier, ADF International pointed out that doctors could not determine whether De Troyer’s mental suffering was incurable because they never attempted to reunite her with her children, with whom she last spoke approximately a year before her death.

“The big problem in our society is that, apparently, we have lost the meaning of taking care of each other,” Mortier said. “My mother had a severe mental problem. She had to cope with depression throughout her life. She was treated for years by psychiatrists, and eventually the contact between us was broken. A year later, she received a lethal injection. Neither the oncologist who administered the injection nor the hospital had informed me or any of my siblings that our mother was even considering euthanasia.”

Mortier filed medical and criminal complaints in 2014, but those complaints went nowhere, according to court documents. ADF International appealed to the European Court of Human Rights first in 2014, but the court declined to take the case the following year. After another appeal in November 2017, the court finally agreed last week to hear the case.

“International law has never established a so-called ‘right to die,’” Clarke said. “On the contrary, it solidly affirms the right to life—particularly for the most vulnerable among us.”

The case is similar to the one involving Nys, whose sister Sophie Nys filed complaints against the doctors who approved Tine Nys’ euthanasia. Like De Troyer, Nys was in good physical health but suffered from depression partly due to a breakup in a romantic relationship. In Nys’ case, doctors approved her euthanasia on the basis of a recent diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Officials opened Belgium’s first criminal investigation of a euthanasia death in Nys’ case.

“According to the most recent government report, more than six people per day are killed in this way, and that may yet be the tip of the iceberg,” said Paul Coleman, director of ADF International. “The figures expose the truth that, once these laws are passed, the impact of euthanasia cannot be controlled. Belgium has set itself on a trajectory that, at best, implicitly tells its most vulnerable that their lives are not worth living.”

YouTube/Planned Parenthood YouTube/Planned Parenthood Leana Wen

From ‘3 percent’ to ‘core mission’

Planned Parenthood has long touted that abortion comprises only 3 percent of its services, campaigning instead for “women’s health” and “reproductive rights.” But on Tuesday, its new president, Leana Wen, contradicted that claim in a tweet, saying, “First, our core mission is providing, protecting, and expanding access to abortion and reproductive health care. We will never back down from that fight—it’s a fundamental human right and women’s lives are at stake.” Wen was criticizing a BuzzFeed News headline that she would focus on “nonabortion health care.”

The tweet backfired, and people flocked to point out its inconsistency with previous Planned Parenthood statements. One Twitter user, Christina Barr, wrote, “THX for finally admitting that PP is all about baby murder.” Philip Wegmann of the Washington Examiner called the tweet “a landmark moment of honesty.” —S.G.

Mark Humphrey Mark Humphrey Sen. Marsha Blackburn

Across the nation

Congress: Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced a bill Thursday that would redirect federal funding away from Planned Parenthood and toward organizations that don’t perform abortions. Blackburn said in a statement that “hardworking taxpayers do not want to subsidize the business of abortion providers and entities such as Planned Parenthood.” Blackburn’s bill, her first as a senator, went to committee for debate.

North Dakota: The state legislature will consider a bill to require providers prescribing abortion-inducing drugs to tell women about a procedure that can reverse the process. State Rep. Daniel Johnston, a Republican, said the proposal would make sure “women having second thoughts” know all of their options.

Florida: State Rep. Mike Hill, a Republican, introduced a bill on Thursday that would protect unborn babies in the state after they have a detectable heartbeat. Heartbeat bills have not fared well in Ohio. Iowa passed one early last year, but a judge blocked it in June.

South Carolina: Legislators in the Palmetto State are considering a heartbeat bill, too. More than 50 sponsors back the legislation, introduced on Wednesday, and it is now before the House Committee on Judiciary.

Texas: U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel heard opening arguments last week in a trial over a slew of state laws protecting women and babies from abortion. The laws take steps such as requiring doctors to report treating complications that arose from abortions, limiting who can perform abortions to licensed physicians, and mandating minors get parental consent. State lawyer Beth Klusmann said such laws are common and have been around for years. —S.G.

Some good news

Abortion may be legal in Ireland, but doctors aren’t rushing to sign up to become abortionists. Of the approximately 2,500 general practitioners in the country, only 179 have so far filled out the paperwork and agreed to perform abortions. Ireland legalized the killing of the unborn up to 12 weeks of pregnancy after a referendum passed in May to amend the country’s constitution, leading to a law signed by President Michael D. Higgins last month that went into effect Jan. 1. —S.G.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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Comments

  • Bob C
    Posted: Tue, 01/15/2019 10:12 am

    Euthanasia on trial - Belgium started down the slippery slope by even having this law.  Legalizing murder never works like you expect, unless you are a Nazis.

  • Bob R
    Posted: Wed, 01/16/2019 01:57 pm

    Wait till the baby boom meets government healthcare.  "We can't afford to cure you, or alleviate your pain, but we DO have this other 'treatment' that will make it all go away!"

  • OldMike
    Posted: Fri, 01/18/2019 09:42 pm

    New Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen probably isn’t going to last long in her new position.  PP can’t handle that level of transparency and honesty.   

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