“Disturbing euthanasia practices” under scrutiny as Belgian doctors face trial for murder

14 January 2020

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Belgian doctors will go on trial today for euthanising a woman who was suffering after a difficult relationship breakup. Antonia Tully, Director of SPUC’s Lives Worth Living Campaign said: “This is a pivotal moment when the disturbing euthanasia practices in Belgium will be held up to scrutiny.”

The doctors, whose identities have not been made public, are accused of ‘unlawfully’ poisoning 38- year old Tine Nys in 2010. Prosecutors allege that the young woman did not fulfil the correct conditions to be legally euthanised.

The disturbing case, as reported by SPUC in 2019, saw the doctors certify the physically healthy 38-year-old as autistic so that they could euthanise her.

Ms Nys’s family said that her suffering was not the result of autism but of a broken heart after the end of a relationship, not autism. Doctors are accused of breaking the law as Ms Nys never received treatment for autism and her suffering was never established as ‘incurable’, which is a requirement to certify for Belgian euthanasia.

The trial commences today (Tuesday) in Ghent city. 

A Warning to the rest of the world

Mrs Tully said: “This case shows how some of the most vulnerable groups in society are put in risk when euthanasia is legalised. Tine was a physically healthy young woman, with her future ahead of her. She deserved care and support. A caring society should be looking at ways of alleviating the  mental suffering of people like Tine."

"It will be an outrage if the court finds the Belgian doctors not guilty of any wrongdoing. This would send a message that death is the solution for vulnerable people suffering from emotional or psychological problems."

Belgian law allows adults to be euthanised if they are facing ‘unbearable physical or mental suffering.’ These laws have been laxly interpreted in recent years.

In 2019, SPUC reported on how a physically healthy Belgium woman, aged 23, was to be euthanised by lethal injection for mental health reasons. , To date, 510 Belgians have been killed by euthanasia on account of their poor mental health since the country legalised the practice of assisted dying in 2002. Three children have since been killed by euthanasia since Belgium extended the practice to children in 2014.