Depressed mum euthanised – son takes legal action

Mon, 15 Sep 2014

The son of a lady who was euthanised in Belgium because she had depression is challenging the country’s euthanasia laws in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

In 2012, Tom Mortier’s mother was killed by a lethal injection after three doctors who had no previous contact with her approved her euthanasia request.

Mortier was only informed of the decision via a telephone call a day after his mother’s death.

Vulnerable

Now he is challenging Belgium’s euthanasia laws in the ECHR, with the help of religious liberty organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Robert Clarke, a lawyer for ADF, said: “The government has an obligation to protect life, not assist in promoting death”.

“A person can claim that she should be able to do whatever she pleases, but that does not override the government’s responsibility to protect the weak and vulnerable.

Treatable

“We are encouraging the European Court to uphold this principle, which is completely consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Godelieva De Troyer had chronic depression for more than twenty years, and her psychiatrist for that period said her condition was treatable.

But De Troyer sought different opinions from other psychiatrists, and made a donation of 2,500 euros to a pro-euthanasia group called Life End Information Forum (LEIF).

Controversial

LEIF’s co-founder, controversial oncologist Dr Wim Distelmans, then killed De Troyer because of “untreatable depression”.

Dr Distelmans previously allowed a pair of deaf identical twins to be euthanaised because they discovered they were going blind.

ADF has filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights, saying that by allowing De Troyer’s euthanasia, Belgium has contravened her right to life.

Violated

They also argue that her son Tom Mortier’s right to respect for private and family life has been violated.

Senior lawyer for ADF Roger Kiska commented: “People suffering from depression need compassion and love, not a prescription for death”.

“The state has a duty to put the necessary safeguards in place so that suffering patients receive adequate care from doctors and an opportunity to consult with family members.”