A Belgian Paralympic athlete who suffers from an incurable spinal disease plans to put off her assisted suicide, at least for now.
Marieke Vervoort, a silver medalist in the 400 meter race, made headlines recently when she announced her plans to be euthanized after the Olympic games in Rio. The 37-year-old now is saying that she will put off her death until her “bad days outnumber the good,” The Daily Mail reports.
“I think there is a great mistake about what the press told in Belgium,” she said. “When the day comes, when I have more bad days than good days, I have my euthanasia papers. But the time is not there yet.”
Vervoot has a rare spinal disease that has plagued her life since 2000, according to the report. A gifted athlete, she has not let the disease get in the way of pursuing her goals. She began playing wheelchair basketball and trained for a triathlon in 2007, the report states. In 2012, she competed in the London Olympics and won medals there. She said the Rio Olympics, where she won silver, will be her last.
The disease is getting worse, and Vervoot said her athletic training is becoming more difficult.
“Training and riding and doing competition are medicine for me,” she said. “I push so hard, to push literally all my fear and everything away.”
Here’s more from the report:
The athlete added that she keeps pushing back the day of her death, knowing it could come anytime — as it can for anyone. She said she can be pain-free one minute, and nearly pass out a few minutes later.
‘You have to live day-by-day and enjoy the little moments,’ she said.
‘Everybody tomorrow can have a car accident and die, or a heart attack and die. It can be tomorrow for everybody.’
The Paralympian calls herself a ‘crazy lady’ and says she still hopes to fly in an F-16 fighter jet, ride in a rally car, and she’s curating a museum of her life going back to at least 14 when she was diagnosed with her rare illness.
She also gives inspirational speeches, has picked out a singer for her wake, and says everyone will drink champagne, and not be bored with coffee and cake.
She wants to be remembered as the lady who was ‘always laughing, always smiling.’
Vervoot said she is in constant pain, has seizures and struggles to sleep at night. She said she will commit euthanasia when she is ready; she has signed euthanasia papers to instruct doctors to end her life.
“I’m really scared, but those (euthanasia) papers give me a lot of peace of mind because I know when it’s enough for me, I have those papers,” she said. “If I didn’t have those papers, I think I’d have done suicide already. I think there will be fewer suicides when every country has the law of euthanasia. … I hope everybody sees that this is not murder, but it makes people live longer.”
However, statistics show the opposite to be true. In states in America where doctor-prescribed suicide is legal, the suicide rates are high and increasing. Poor and elderly people have been pressured to consider ending their lives prematurely, sometimes for financial reasons.
In Belgium, euthanasia deaths also are climbing rapidly, and the country expects to have euthanized more than 6,000 people by the end of 2016. Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, even for children, and massive abuses are being reported.
Rather than encourage people to seek treatment, people with treatable and curable conditions are being euthanized in Belgium. These include Godelieva De Troyer, a healthy Belgian woman who was living with depression and Ann G, a 44-year-old who asked for euthanasia for psychological pain after being sexually exploited by her psychiatrist, who was treating her for Anorexia. In June, Belgium doctors also signed a 24-year-old’s request for euthanasia because she said she struggled with thoughts of suicide, the Euthanasia Prevention Commission reported to LifeNews.