Belgium: Rapist, Murderer Wants Euthanasia to Avoid Life in Prison

International   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Jan 2, 2014   |   4:15PM   |   Washington, DC

Why not? Once killing is accepted as an answer to human suffering, who is anyone to judge what suffering qualifies as killable?

That’s certainly the thinking behind a vicious psychotic rapist/murderer who wants to be euthanized because he finds life in a mental hospital to be unbearable. From the Globe and Mail story:

For more than half his life, Frank van den Bleeken, a rapist and murderer, has been detained in the Belgian penal system, spending long stretches in solitary confinement in prison psychiatric wings, waiting for treatment of his violent sexual urges. Now he wants to die.

With little prospect of change, Mr. van den Bleeken has turned to his country’s euthanasia law and asked to be killed by lethal injection if he cannot get treatment.

A morally sane society would reject this out of hand. But Belgian doesn’t qualify as morally sane anymore:

Mr. van den Bleeken’s still unresolved case is the latest controversial example of applicants who are not terminally ill but suffer psychological pains. “Two prominent psychiatrists have seen him and said this is a man who is suffering in an unbearable, enduring way and that his mental condition can never be treated properly. That’s why he’s asking to be euthanized, because he’s suffering in an unbearable way,” Mr. Van Der Velpen said.

“It’s a medical question that is very, very, very delicate and very difficult.”

I don’t know whether a doctor will kill van den Bleeken. I suspect not because of the harsh light recently cast on Belgium’s wild euthanasia.

But at some point, euthanasia due to the anguish of long term incarceration or hospitalization for dangerous psychosis will become a reality because saying no will be seen as either arbitrary or a cause of suffering.



I call that notion–already embraced in some circles–“cruel and unusual death with dignity.” Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.