45 year old identical twin brothers who were born deaf were put to death by lethal injection after they discovered that they were both going blind and would never be able to see each other.
The brothers fearing the daunting prospect they would never see each other ever again decided to exercise a provision under Belgian law which allows one to seek death in the event one is suffering unbearable pain. It is understood that the brothers had spent their entire lives with each other.
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Interestingly the UK’s dailymail goes on to note that Belgian law differs from that of Switzerland, famous for its Dignitas clinic, where only ‘assisted suicide’ is permitted. Switzerland’s law means patients must play an active role in the administration of the drug that ends their lives.
What though makes the euthanasia in the case of the twins even more unusual is the fact that neither twin was suffering extreme physical pain or was terminally ill, a stipulation that is often mandatory before euthanasia is allowed.
David Dufour, the doctor who presided over the euthanasia, told RTL television news the twins had taken the decision in ‘full conscience’.
He said they were ‘very happy’ and it had was a ‘relief’ to see the end of their suffering.
‘They had a cup of coffee in the hall, it went well and a rich conversation,’ Mr Dufour said.
‘Then the separation from their parents and brother was very serene and beautiful.
‘At the last there was a little wave of their hands and then they were gone.’
After the brother’s deaths, whose names have not been publicly disseminated, the country’s legislature proposed changes that would extend the ‘law to that of minors if they are capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that can not be alleviated.’
In the United States only Montana, Oregon and Washington are the only states that permit some form of assisted suicide.
Then there was this comment that really made me wonder as well…
When are psychological or mental illness issues considered? It appears that the “pain” that these twins expected to experience was a psychological or emotional one. The euthanasia was approved due to the stated anticipation of severe emotional and psychological pain each believed would occur following the prediction of blindness? Talk about SLIPPERY SLOPE! It would appear that any individual 18 years old could be euthanized under this law. Considering the emotional extremes often encountered at this age and stage of becoming an adult, one can imagine quite a few traumatic instances where the ‘pain’ was so overwhelming that the person could not imagine living any longer… I may not be expressing this as succinctly as possible, but where is line drawn. When and who determines that the level of pain isn’t simply a maturation issue that with sufficient counseling, support and time wouldn’t eventually diminish? Diminish and become more tolerable and LIFE become more LIVABLE?!