Belgium Euthanizes First Mentally-ill Convict

In early 2013, Belgium became the first country in the world to throw out age limits for legal euthanasia. The law states “a child would have to be terminally ill, face “unbearable physical suffering” and make repeated requests to die – before euthanasia is considered. Parents, doctors and psychiatrists would have to agree before a decision is made.”

Now, Belgium and its unusually lax laws concerning physician-assisted suicide is in the news again. This time for mental illness. The country, who doesn’t have a death penalty, found a legal loophole for condemning a convicted child rapist and murderer to death.

According to the Associated Press:

Belgium’s justice minister approved Frank Van Den Bleeken’s transfer to a hospital for euthanasia late Monday after doctors agreed his mental condition was incurable, making him the first detainee in Belgium to be put to death for psychiatric reasons.

Van Den Bleeken, who was found guilty of murder and rape in several cases, has been locked up for almost 30 years. He wishes to die because he has no viable treatment options left and cannot control his sexual urges

This situation opens a whole can of worms. Should we, as a society, allow a convicted man the right to ‘choose’ to die, when he didn’t even show that mercy for his victims? Is justice being given to the families of the victims? Were they counseled and/or given a chance to have their voices heard on the matter? If he wasn’t a rapist and a murderer, would an ‘incurable’ mental illness be enough grounds for legal suicide? Should suicide be legal at all?

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