GHENT, Belgium — A jury in Belgium has acquitted three doctors who were on trial on allegations of illegally poisoning a woman who had requested to die in the midst of her struggles with ongoing psychiatric issues. Her sisters, who took the doctors to court, state that she was also dealing with depression from a broken relationship and could have received help and hope.
According to the BBC, the 12-member jury deliberated for more than eight hours on Friday before deciding to clear doctors Joris Van Hove and Frank de Greef, as well as psychiatrist Lieve Thienpont.
The court concluded that there was “reasonable doubt” in the case of Van Hove, who had administered the lethal injection, and that de Greef, the woman’s former doctor, was unaware that she was going to be euthanized that day. Thienpont had argued that she did everything that was required of her under the law.
As previously reported, Tine Nys, then 38, died in 2010 after seeking to be euthanized. Her sisters, Lotte and Sophie, state that she had struggled with psychiatric issues from her youth and had once tried to kill herself.
They say that Nys had not received treatment for the past 15 years, and two months before she died, she was diagnosed with autism, but likewise was not provided with help for the condition. The sisters also contended that the woman was dealing with stress following a breakup.
They took Van Jove and the others to court, accusing them of breaking the country’s euthanasia law as Nys did not have an “incurable disorder” and her condition was not without hope or treatment. Nys’ sisters also took issue that the doctors compared the act with putting a pet out of its suffering and that Van Hove had their father assist with her death.
“He … asked our father to hold the needle in her arm because he had forgotten to bring plasters,” they stated in 2016, according to the BBC. “When she had died, he asked our parents if they wanted to listen through the stethoscope to check [if] her heart had actually stopped beating.”
Defense attorneys bemoaned during the trial that the doctors and psychiatrist were being practically characterized as murderers. On Friday, as the jury came back with an acquittal, those in the room broke out with applause.
However, pro-life groups have long expressed concerns over end of life practices in Belgium. As previously reported, a report released by the Federal Commission for Euthanasia Control and Evaluation in 2018 showed that euthanasia continues to increase in Belgium, with 4,337 Belgians opting to die — including three ill children — in 2016-2017.
While the majority of cases where people chose to end it all — 2,781 — involved cancer, hundreds of deaths were marked as being due to “polypathology,” or the sufferance of multiple health issues — many of which are common to the elderly, such as blindness, loss of hearing, incontinence, gait and mobility disorders, nervous system diseases, dementia and/or significant heart ailments.
77 Belgians with mental or behavioral issues also died by physician-assisted suicide during the report period.
“Alcoholics, sex-abuse victims, and dementia sufferers also qualify and have died in [Belgium and the Netherlands],” lamented the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. “When these most vulnerable groups are ‘helped’ to die, it is clear that no one is safe.”
As previously reported, Scripture outlines that God, not man, appoints the days of mankind (Job 14:5), and even before a person is born, He writes their times in His book.
While autonomy is a common argument in physician-assisted suicide, 2 Corinthians 5:15 outlines that Christ “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again.”