Monday, 14 January 2013

Deaf... Going Blind: Euthanasia the Solution?

Two Belgium men ended their lives just before Christmas after being born deaf and finding that they would soon also go blind.

Marc and Eddy Verbessem had spent their entire lives together, sharing a flat and both working as cobblers. Their local hospital refused to give them injections to end their lives, but eventually they found a doctor willing to carry out the procedure.

The law states euthanasia can be carried out in cases of 'unbearable suffering'. Yet debate has begun as to whether this can be classed in this way or not.

Their older brother said:

"Many will wonder why my brothers have opted for euthanasia because there are plenty of deaf and blind that have a 'normal' life... But my brothers trudged from one disease to another. They were really worn out." 
The doctor who carried it out said:

"It is certain that the twins meet all the conditions for euthanasia."
However Chris Gastmans, a professor in medical ethics at a local Catholic university responded by saying:

"Is this the only humane response that we can offer in such situations? I feel uncomfortable here as ethicist. Today it seems that euthanasia is the only right way to end life. And I think that's not a good thing. In a society as wealthy as ours, we must find another, caring way to deal with human frailty."

Most cases in Belgium, which legalised euthanasia in 2002, are for patients who are terminally ill or suffering physical pain. However the law has very recently be changed to allow the euthanasia of children and Alzheimer's sufferers.

Do you think this was the right decision for the twins? Do you think that euthanasia was the only solution? Do you think the law is correct to allow for such cases? Do you think there will be future implications as a result of this case?

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