Medical professionals and leaders of the Belgian Catholic Church claimed Belgian officials are abusing euthanasia laws to kill people without reasonable consent.
Jean Kockerols, Auxiliary Bishop of Mechelen-Brussels, claimed that Belgian doctors are euthanizing patients without following proper medical and legal checks, sparking outcry from “not just the church’s hierarchy, but doctors and medical professionals as well,” according to the Catholic Herald. Belgium’s Federal Commission for Monitoring and Evaluation of Euthanasia has violated “both the law and its role” by allowing the euthanization of the mentally handicapped and mentally ill and failing to prosecute doctors who shirk the required safeguards under current euthanasia law, according to a report from Cathobel.
“It’s shocking that, 15 years since its creation, this commission has not referred a single file to prosecutors or condemned a single doctor,” the report from the Belgian Catholic Church’s news agency read.
“It is acting as judge and jury, and not fulfilling its role. It isn’t broadening application of the law, but violating it,” the report added.
Belgium’s Euthanasia Control Commission, led by Dr. Wim Distelmans, has failed to prosecute doctors despite public complaints and ample evidence of malpractice, the report claims, citing the example of a 38-year-old woman who requested euthanasia after her boyfriend broke up with her. The woman was subsequently diagnosed with autism after meeting with three doctors, and euthanized two months later.
The woman’s two sisters claimed the doctors never explored alternative treatments and reported the doctors’ violations to the Euthanasia Control Commission. The commission found that the presiding doctor even failed to file the necessary paperwork and record of the euthanasia treatment, but showed grace for his negligence by allowing him to file the paperwork two months later. The commission did not prosecute or otherwise penalize anyone.
A member of the commission also recently resigned over the commission’s failure to prosecute a doctor who euthanized a dementia patient without their consent, according to the report. Deaths by euthanasia have increased annually in Belgium by 27 percent since euthanasia’s legalization in 2002, health ministry data shows, according to Catholic Herald.
The commission is required to verify that each of those deaths follow the procedures mandated by current euthanasia law, but Kockerols asserted the commission’s willful failure to do so is an open secret.
Kockerols told Catholic News Service the church has known for a long time that the commission was “not working as it should” and that it should be investigated and corrected. The church, Kockerols said, will continue to fight euthanasia practices and rally citizens against the moral evils they believe it represents.
“Even if there’s little chance for now of legal changes, the church can work on a moral and pastoral level with medical staff and support critical voices,” Kockerols told Catholic Herald.