Euthanasia has been granted to a prisoner condemned to life imprisonment in Belgium but it has been cancellated because  “the decision of doctors treating Frank Van Den Bleeken to no longer continue the euthanasia procedure”,  said Koen Geens, the Belgian justice minister . “The Telegraph, 06 Jan 2015). Instead the killer, who is serving a life sentence will be transferred to a psychiatric prison. The ethical objection of the  doctors attending the prisioner saved Frank Van Den Bleeken from death.

Frank van den Bleeken is a Belgian prisoner who was condemned to life imprisonment when he was 20 years old for the rape and murder of a young 19-year-old woman. Now 50-years-old, van den Bleeken does not suffer physical pain, nor is he in the terminal stage of any illness. However, after spending three decades in prison, he considers that his life is not worth living, and for this reason requested euthanasia, arguing unbearable mental anguish.

The Telegraph said, “The prisoner condemned to life imprisonment has requested – and finally obtained – that he be released early by euthanasia from a life that he considers meaningless and which brings him only mental anguish but Professor Wim Distelmans, a Belgian cancer specialist and prominent advocate of euthanasia, earlier this year pulled out of the lethal injection procedure because of the possibility of Dutch psychiatric treatment for van den Bleeken. “I decided to no longer act as attending physician for the euthanasia because I believe certain legal due diligence has not been respected,” he wrote in the De Morgen newspaper, “For Frank there is palliative care just across the border and it’s cheaper [than care for cancer patients], but there is no political will.”euthanasia is repaced by palliative care
In our opinion, this case shows the alternative between euthanasia and palliative care is decisive. (See our late article, Cuidados Paliativos una alernativa a la eutanasia ).  Confirming this idea the article said, “the killer, who is serving a life sentence will be transferred to a psychiatric prison ward in Ghent while the Belgian authorities discuss his transfer to a Dutch specialist centre for the palliative care of long-term prisoners.”
Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002, and is one of only three countries to allow the practice, the others being the Netherlands and Luxembourg. More countries, including Switzerland and some states of America, allow doctors to assist suicide in certain circumstances.

Belgium has seen a fast growth in the number of cases of euthanasia, and has expanded the practice beyond terminally ill adults. It can now be used in cases of intense pain and psychological distress, while last February the right to euthanasia was extended to terminally ill children, as long as their parents gave consent.

In 2013, the last year for which full records have been published, the number of euthanasia cases in Belgium rose to 1,807, up 27 per cent on the year before.

More than a third of euthanasia cases are in those under 60, and although the vast majority of approvals are given to those in unrelievable physical pain or terminally ill, 67 cases last year cited psychological grounds, including dementia and psychosis.

One previous prison inmate has been euthanased in Belgium but he was suffering a terminal illness.

Van Den Bleeken first applied for euthanasia in 2011, saying he had not been offered specialist therapy. Since then, a specialist centre has opened in Belgium, but he reapplied in any case.

Critics of his case say it reflects the poor mental health services and palliative care available to Belgian inmates.



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