In 2012, Tom Mortier’s mother, Godelieva De Troyer, was euthanized at the hospital of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels) in Belgium. All that qualified her for assisted suicide was a diagnosis of chronic depression. She was otherwise healthy, and she was not only euthanized, but her family was not informed until after she was dead. Belgian authorities refused to investigate or take any kind of action, but Mortier refused to give up on seeking justice for his mother. And now, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing his case before the European Court of Human Rights.
According to ADF, the psychiatrist who had been treating De Troyer for over 20 years said she did not qualify for euthanasia under Belgian law, which requires that the person have a “medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated, resulting from a serious and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident.” This was not the case for De Troyer, whose depression was exacerbated by life circumstances, namely isolation from family members and breaking up with her boyfriend.
“The big problem in our society is that apparently we have lost the meaning of taking care of each other,” Mortier said in the ADF press release. “My mother had a severe mental problem. She had to cope with depression throughout her life. She was treated for years by psychiatrists and eventually the contact between us was broken. A year later she received a lethal injection. Neither the oncologist, who administered the injection nor the hospital had informed me or any of my siblings that our mother was even considering euthanasia.”
Catholic News Daily also reports that the psychiatrist who approved De Troyer’s euthanasia request is Dr. Lieve Thienpont, the same doctor behind the euthanization of a woman whom he falsely claimed was autistic. Thienpont is also under investigation for that case.
Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International, says that De Troyer’s death shows how the “slippery slope” of assisted suicide is on display in Belgium. “According to the most recent government report, more than six people per day are killed in this way, and that may yet be the tip of the iceberg,” he said in a press release. “The figures expose the truth that, once these laws are passed, the impact of euthanasia cannot be controlled. Belgium has set itself on a trajectory that, at best, implicitly tells its most vulnerable that their lives are not worth living.”