In Belgium, Alliance Defending Freedom filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Tom Mortier, who is challenging Belgium’s laws that allow euthanasia. Mortier’s mother was put to death by a doctor for “untreatable depression” even though she was not terminally ill. Mortier did not find out what had happened until he received a telephone call the day after her death.
Oncologist Wim Distelmans killed Godelieva De Troyer, a Belgium citizen who was not terminally ill, because of “untreatable depression” in April 2012 after receiving consent from three other physicians who had no previous involvement with her care. De Troyer’s doctor of more than 20 years had denied her request to be euthanized in September 2011, but after a 2,500 EUR donation to Life End Information Forum, an organization co-founded by Distelmans, he carried out her request to die because of the depression. The donation gives rise to an apparent conflict of interest.
No one contacted Mortier before his mother’s death despite the fact that he says her depression was not only largely the result of a break-up with a man, but also due to her feelings of distance from her family.
Now ADF informs LifeNews that Distelmans will not face prosecution.
ADF International filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights Tuesday for Mortier. The case, Mortier v. Belgium, focuses on the right to life and the right to family life, which are both protected under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Belgian authorities have refused to pursue Mortier’s case, which opens the door for him to apply to the top court in Europe and is now his only opportunity to obtain justice for the loss of his mother. The court’s findings on doctor-prescribed death will impact 800 million Europeans in 47 countries if the court agrees to take the case.
“The big problem in our society is that we have apparently lost the meaning of taking care of each other,” said Mortier. “My mother had a severe mental problem. She had to cope with depression throughout her life. Psychiatrists treated her for years, 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. I found out a day later when the hospital contacted me to ask me to take care of the practicalities.”
When Belgium first legalized doctor-prescribed death, officials made promises that it would be well regulated with strict criteria; however, 15 years later, the number of cases each year has increased 780 percent from when it was first legalized. Belgium went further in 2014 by legalizing child euthanasia.
Cases of worsening eyesight, hearing, and mobility have been considered “unbearable suffering” for the purposes of qualifying patients for doctor-prescribed death in Belgium. Lawmakers have proposed limiting freedom of conscience and silencing doctors who are opposed to carrying out the killing of such patients. Most recently, in the Netherlands, a proposed bill would allow euthanasia simply for being “tired of life.”
“We will be judged as a society by how we care for our most vulnerable,” said ADF International Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke, who represents Mortier before the European court. “International law has never established a so-called ‘right to die.’ On the contrary, it solidly affirms a right to life—particularly for the most vulnerable among us.”
“The slippery slope is on full public display in Belgium, and we now see the tragic consequences,” Clarke added. “More than five people per day are killed in this way, and that may yet be the tip of the iceberg. Belgium has set itself on a trajectory that, at best, implicitly tells its most vulnerable that their lives are not worth living.”