Belgium does allow euthanasia for terminal illnesses and now also psychological suffering. I was aware of the terminal illness, but was surprised about the psychological suffering. I came across this aspect of euthanasia aspect by chance. It seems that Nathan Verhelst chose euthanasia after his gender reassignment surgeries failed. Belgium now has around 2000 deaths by euthanasia each year (1% of all deaths). Another case that gained headlines were two brothers that were born deaf and suffered from an incurable disease. They chose euthanasia when they started going blind.
|from Huffington Post here. Deaf Belgian twins euthanized after starting to turn blind.|
I do not want to diminish the effect of psychological suffering. But unlike terminal illness, psychological suffering has more of a grey area. In the cases cited in the article, all parties opted for euthanasia out of their own will and there no suspicion that anyone got unduly influenced in this decision. I am still concerned that especially in cases of psychological suffering the environment may be a significant factor in inducing or contributing to the suffering. We hear a lot about cyberbullying these days. What if the consequences of cyberbullying are so severe that people elect euthanasia. There have been way too many cases of young people committing suicide due to constant and egregious cyberbullying. If euthanasia were to become an option, and under the Belgium definition it may soon, are not we as a society then making it too easy for us to get rid of victims rather than attempt to cure our own evil(doing)s.
To me the subject of euthanasia is interesting on a variety of levels. But one concern that I have always had is where will society draw the line? Are we started already on the slippery slope of allowing psychological suffering as a reason for euthanasia? But who are we to judge when suffering, of any kind, is too much?
What are your thoughts?