Young Belgian woman euthanised after suffering from PTSD

Doctors in Belgium are under investigation after a physically healthy 23-year-old woman was euthanised at her request because of her mental health difficulties.

Shanti De Corte suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after surviving a terror attack at Brussels Airport in 2016.

Under Belgian law, a person with a “medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental pain that cannot be alleviated” can be euthanised. There is no lower age limit.


De Corte did not suffer any physical injuries from the terror attack which killed 32 people but did develop PTSD and had attempted suicide twice before.

Prosecutors in Antwerp started an investigation after neurologist Dr Paul Deltenre complained that the decision was premature as there was still care and treatment which had not been attempted.

Following the news that De Corte had been killed, crossbench Peer Lord Alton tweeted: “She was desperate for help. Is killing a patient the best we can do?”

Wrong answer

Campaigners in the UK have warned that removing legal protections from vulnerable people cannot be properly safeguarded.

Honorary Consultant in Palliative Care at St Oswald’s Hospice in Newcastle, Dr Claud Regnard, warned that the pressure to include more people would be unrelenting. He said: “People talk about safeguards. But even now some are saying the safeguards envisaged would be discriminatory.”

Is killing a patient the best we can do?

The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said: “It is desperately sad to see young people feeling so hopeless that they seek to end their own lives. But allowing doctors to kill them, rather than helping them through their issues, is not the answer.

“This should not have happened in Belgium, and it must not be allowed to happen in the UK.”

ECHR ruling

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Belgian Government did not properly review the 2012 case of Godelieva de Troyer who was diagnosed with “incurable depression” and killed by lethal injection.

Robert Clarke, Deputy Director of ADF International, said: “the ‘safeguards’ touted as offering protection to vulnerable people should trigger more caution toward euthanasia in Europe, and the world”.

Also see:


Canadian euthanasia Bill targets disabled and mentally ill

Canada: Experts warn against even weaker euthanasia laws

Bioethicist: ‘Legalising assisted suicide will lead to euthanasia’

Lancet echoes concerns about Canada’s ‘normalisation’ of euthanasia

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