Belgian Doctor Accused of Euthanasia of Five Elderly Patients

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 4, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Belgian Doctor Accused of Euthanasia of Five Elderly Patients Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 4, 2005

Brussels, Belgium ( — A Belgian doctor has been accused of killing five elderly nursing home patients via euthanasia in the small town of Oostende, according to the local newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. The patients were all suffering from dementia and the doctor is accused of killing them with lethal injections.

The doctor, identified only as Boudewijn D.W., admitted administering the treatment, but denied murdering his patients. He says he discussed the injections with the patient’s families and nursing staff.

However, the nursing home, Sint-Monica, reported the deaths to authorities and the doctor was arrested.

He was arrested last Friday, but released on bail on Tuesday morning and local authorities still have the case under investigation.

In Belgium, which has legalized assisted suicide, requests must come directly from the patient, not the doctor and the physician must be certain the patient is suffering from an incurable disease.

The physician is also required to obtain a second opinion from another doctor in addition to consulting the patient’s family and nursing team.

Bishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Belgium spokes against euthanasia at a Vatican press conference earlier this year. He said pro-life people need to work together in Europe to stop the spread of the grisly practice.

"People have to be educated to vote. There has to be the desire to promote a debate and form a lobby (against euthanasia)," Bishop Leonard explained.

He also urged expansion of palliative care for the elderly and disabled to make the desire for ending one’s life less prevalent.