Monday, January 14, 2013

"Belgium allows euthanasia for deaf twins"

Text borrowed from, 1/14/13:  

Identical twins have been killed by Belgian doctors in a unique case under the country's euthanasia laws. 

The 45-year-old brothers from the Antwerp region were born deaf and sought euthanasia after finding that they would also soon go blind. They told doctors they were unable to bear the thought of not being able to see each other again. 

The twins, who have not been named but have been pictured on Belgian TV, had spent their entire lives together, sharing a flat and working as cobblers. 

Belgium's 'Het Laatste Nieuws' newspaper reported at the weekend that doctors at Brussels University Hospital in Jette "euthanised" the two men by lethal injection last month. 

Under Belgian law, euthanasia is allowed if those wishing to end their lives are able to make their wishes clear and a doctor judges that they are suffering unbearable pain. 

David Dufour, the doctor who presided over the euthanasia, said the twins had died together and had taken the decision in "full conscience". 

"They were very happy. It was a relief to see the end of their suffering," he said. "They had a cup of coffee in the hall, it went well and a rich conversation. Then the separation from their parents and brother was very serene. At the last there was a little wave of their hands and then they were gone." 

The case is unusual because neither of the men was terminally ill or suffering extreme physical pain.


More text from, 1/12/13:

The fact that they were born deaf never formed an obstacle to them enjoying a fulfilling life. However, when a few years ago their sight also started to deteriorate they faced losing any way of communicating with each other. The idea that they wouldn’t be able to see each other was unbearable for the two brothers.

Under Belgian law euthanasia is allowed if the person wishing to end his/her life has made their wishes clear and a doctor has ruled that his/her patient is suffering unbearable pain.  

However, in the case of the two brothers neither was terminally ill, nor suffering any physical pain. Despite this, doctors at Brussels University Hospital in Jette agreed to their request to be euthanised.

The double euthanasia on the two brothers was carried out almost a month ago on 14 December.


Personally, I find this to be very troubling. This would seem to suggest that being blind or deaf-blind is akin to a terminal unbearably painful condition. It is also troubling that this euthanasia was state sanctioned and carried out in a hospital setting. I would like to learn more about this particular case and about the ideas behind euthanasia in general. Any relation to eugenics or Social Darwinism here?

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