Euthanasia arbitrage the moral hazard culture that is Belgian, installment #1437

No, this is not a repeat of the post from yesterday, there is another twist:

Doctors in Belgium have rejected an imprisoned murderer and rapist’s request for medically assisted suicide, the Justice Ministry said on Tuesday, less than a week before he was due to receive a lethal injection.

…Van Den Bleeken, 51, and in prison for nearly 30 years, had complained of a lack of therapy provided for his condition in Belgium. He argued he had no prospect of release since he could not overcome his violent sexual impulses, and wanted to die in order to end his mental anguish.

Belgium has pioneered the legalization of euthanasia beyond terminal illness to include those suffering unbearable mental pain.

But others have received euthanasia:

Cases which attracted international attention included the euthanasia of two deaf twins who were in the process of losing their sight, and of a transgender person left in torment by an unsuccessful sex change operation.

In February, Belgium became the first country to allow euthanasia for terminally ill children at any age, a move which drew criticism from religious groups both at home and abroad, though application for minors is limited to those about to die.

It is perhaps the wrong mood affiliation to apply the euthanasia process to an actual criminal:

Belgium, like the rest of the European Union, does not have the death penalty.

Here is the full article, and for the pointer I thank A. Le Roy.


The guy's situation is understandable. But considering some of the more particularly nefarious applications of high- and low-tech mental manipulations which seem to have proliferated in recent years, I think the doctor would be loathe to perform an assisted suicide which might lead others to escape certain torturous experiences, which might thereby promote the desire of nefarious peoples to apply these technologies in that way.

Eventually, the balance between social control over state potential for abuse of these technologies and state control over limited public access to such technologies will be established.

Surely, the 30 years time done is enough. So, if he's just making it up and wants a way out, then why not (assuming that appropriate mechanisms are in place to ensure that no one has incentive to promote the idea and there are measures to help the people who are considering such options)? In another time and place, I'd be sympathetic with his situation. But not now.

(On the matter of mental versus physical pain, here's a study that shows that psychological torture is similarly hard on people as physical torture: I.e., mental anguish is real.)

Such fascination with the topic being open in Belgium (along with the Netherlands and Switzerland).

Particularly since euthansia is a fairly common thing, worldwide. Pretty much any time someone is provided 'pain relief' with an increasing dosage of morphine spreading over hours or a day or two in a clinical setting, the goal which generally no one will admit in public is not pain relief, but to stop the patient's breathing.

Often, the doctor won't even mention the actual mechanics of the process in the U.S. - or Germany, as a nurse here and I compared notes about how such things work in countries where euthansia is seen by the legal system as something forbidden - even when it goes on regularly.

That's only in palliative care, when the patient will die very soon anyways (days, weeks). It does not extend their life, but it makes it more comfortable on the way out.

No, usually they do not intentionally give doses high enough to stop breathing.

Sorry, Troll me, I concur with prior_test, that's what happened to my the grandfather of my foreign girlfriend (who's one quarter of my age and totally hot). It took four attempts at "easing his pain" before he actually died. One of the benefits is that the family can be with the patient as they die (if that's their thing) without having to spend months at their bed, instead they get a phone call "Can you guys be here at around 7pm? We think he might go around then."

Another benefit is that health services spend an inordinate amount of money caring for people in their last two weeks of life, euthanasia leads to big savings.

It seems pretty reasonable that times of major medical distress, such as when someone is so ill that he ends up dying, would also be times of major medical costs. When else would major medical costs occur?

I thought it's usually more the fact of ending treatment than easing pain that led to earlier death. That isn't euthanasia, that's letting nature take its course in a more comfortable manner.

@Mr. Troll: euthanasia is just another taboo. Around the world are many children, but some adults don't like to talk about sex.

If the primary purpose of the morphine is to control pain then the fact that it may also shorten life becomes a side effect (and not the intended effect, and thus not euthanasia). Since morphine (and other opiates) are CNS depressants, it is unavoidable that doses high enough to adequately control pain will often hasten end of life, but, that does not erase the line between pain control and euthanasia.

"Another benefit is that health services spend an inordinate amount of money caring for people in their last two weeks of life, euthanasia leads to big savings." Yes it may, but that's not necessarily a feature as it creates a conflict of interest between "big savings" and providing adequate and humane medical treatment as life's end approaches.

This conflict would, perhaps, be lessened if physicians' estimates of patients' life expectancy were consistently accurate, but, they are not; many hospice patients far outlive their life expectancy, even as others die earlier than expected.

Preachy Sermon of the day:

Giving 'wise, trained, people' the ability to make such decisions ignores human nature. Suicide was common in Roman times and it can easily become common again-- even moreso with technology.

The unfathomable singular God solves this problem by placing such prohibitions out of reach of reason, thus out of reach of people who would use the perception of reason for their own ends.

Murderers are safe but children are fair game!

Dying culture indeed.

I'd bet that a single overnight power outage in the country would more than compensate for the 3 or 4 lost.

I was told Belgium still has the death penalty on the books but European law supersedes it. Anyway, there it is. Too lazy to look it up myself.

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