Controversial case re-opens euthanasia debate


Politicians are calling for a re-evaluation of euthanasia legislation following a TV broadcast in which two women criticised the process their sister underwent six years ago

Sisters’ testimony

A controversial case of euthanasia on the basis of psychological suffering has re-opened the debate on euthanasia legislation. In the TV programme Terzake, two women discussed the euthanasia performed on their sister, Tine Nys, in 2010.

Nys’ motivation for undergoing euthanasia, they said, was a relationship that ended, but she had previously suffered psychiatric problems. It had been 15 years since she had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Two months before her death, Nys was diagnosed with autism, but her three doctors did not discuss any treatment options with her, said the sisters, who also criticised the lack of communication between the doctors and the amateurish way in which the euthanasia was carried out.

The case has led to another political debate on the subject, with the Christian-democrats (CD&V) calling for an evaluation of euthanasia legislation. According to CD&V senator Steven Vanackere, the current legislation isn’t sufficient in analysing extreme cases.

Vanackere pointed out that, although multiple doctors have to be consulted, they don’t necessarily have to agree, and that long-term treatment options are not addressed in the law. CD&V president Wouter Beke noted that the family doesn’t need to be included in the process.

Open VLD senator Jean-Jacques De Gucht, a specialist in the right to die, defended the legislation but agreed to debate the current legal framework.

Photo: Tine Neys (centre), pictured with her two sisters in 2010.

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