Report: Depressed, but otherwise healthy, 24-year-old granted right to die
BRUSSELS — A severely depressed but otherwise healthy woman has qualified for euthanasia under Belgian law, even though she is not terminally ill, Newsweek.com reports.
Newsweek reports that the woman, simply known as Laura, qualifies to receive a lethal injection. She has been the patient of a psychiatric institution since the age of 21, and has already tried to take her life on several occasions.
“Death feels to me not as a choice,” the woman told Belgian journalists. “If I had a choice, I would choose a bearable life, but I have done everything and that was unsuccessful.”
The date of her death has not yet been decided.
Belgium’s euthanasia laws were passed in 2002, and allow people to take their life with the help of a physician if they suffer from intractable and unbearable pain. There were 1,807 recorded deaths by euthanasia in the country in 2013, with over half of the patients aged 70 or higher. However, as younger individuals with depression have increasingly decided for euthanasia, many disagree with the ways Belgium’s laws are written.
“There is absolutely no way for healthcare professionals to measure another person’s mental suffering to decide if they should receive euthanasia,” Brussels-based Carine Brochier, a representative with the European Institute of Bioethics, told Newsweek. “Euthanasia is not the answer to all human suffering.”
Belgium allows individuals as young as 12 to opt for euthanasia.
Physician-assisted suicide is legal in Washington state, one of only three states to legalize the procedure via legislation. However, only those with a six-month predicted survival rate are allowed physician assisted suicide.