3 doctors stand trial for euthanasia-related charges

Three Belgian doctors are standing trial before the court of assizes in connection with euthanasia, a practise that is legal in Belgium if the rules are followed.

The three doctors are standing trial in Ghent and are charged with poisoning a woman who underwent euthanasia in 2010.  It’s the first time since euthanasia was legalised in 2002 that doctors are being taken to court.

Tine Nys underwent euthanasia in April 2010.  The 38-year-old woman faced psychological suffering with no prospect of this coming to an end soon.  The woman had had a difficult youth and suffered severe psychiatric problems, had attempted suicide on several occasions and had been in psychiatric hospitals for lengthy periods. At Christmas 2009, after yet another disappointment in love, she contacted her GP and they discussed her wish for euthanasia.  In subsequent months and in addition to her GP two other doctors approved her request for euthanasia.  One of the doctors was also a psychiatrist.  Euthanasia was carried out four months later.

Six months after her death Tine’s sisters complained to a magistrate that the letter of the law had not been followed. The sisters point to the law that states euthanasia on account of psychological suffering is only possible when the patient suffers intolerable suffering and is incurably ill.  They say that in Tine’s case this wasn’t so.

The sisters argued that Tine hadn’t been hospitalised in a psychiatric hospital for 15 years and wasn’t receiving treatment.  Recently she had also received a new diagnosis and was said to be suffering from autism. They feel it’s incomprehensible euthanasia was carried out and other forms of treatment weren’t considered.