A Belgian case of euthanasia reveals a culture of death
In May, a Belgian woman named Shanti De Corte was killed by euthanasia. Six years ago, as a teenager, De Corte survived the horrific terrorist attack on Brussels. Thirty-two people were killed in the attack, which was carried out by Islamic State terrorists. Many students were among the victims, classmates of De Corte.
Although she narrowly escaped death, De Corte struggled to cope with the trauma of the event. He was prescribed heavy medication for the depression which only got worse over time. “I receive several medications for breakfast and up to 11 antidepressants a day”, she wrote. “With all the drugs I take, I feel like a ghost who no longer feels anything. There were perhaps other solutions than drugs.
In April 2022, De Corte submitted a request for euthanasia due to his “medically futile“state of mental suffering. Two psychologists approved the request and a month later, at age 23, she was given a cocktail of deadly drugs. Shanti De Corte is the 33rd victim of her country’s deadliest terrorist attack. Only she was not killed by terrorists, but by her own government.
Last September, Belgium put nine of the terrorist attackers on trial. Ironically, none of them were sentenced to death, which, as pointed out by Douglas Murray in the Spectator, is “unlawful under the European Convention, the European Court of Justice and a host of related laws and protocols”. Thus, Murray continued: “In the 21st century, Europe is so sophisticated that it is unacceptable to execute criminals. Executing their victims, on the other hand, is not only acceptable but “logical”.
Although proponents often ridicule the opposition as appealing only to “slippery slope” arguments, the slope of medical assistance in dying is not just slippery, it is steep, greased and leads to the moral abyss. Executing the victim instead of the aggressors was not only legal, but logical in this turbulent world. Indeed, after her death, a group of Antwerp prosecutors opened an investigation to determine whether the 20-year-old’s decision was “done prematurely.“They found no violation of Belgium’s broad end-of-life policies, which now include the right to kill those with mental health issues, as well as children of all ages.
Assurances of “autonomy” and “consent” are futile when government and health care have been corrupted by a culture of death. The rest of us find ourselves telling the depressed, including teenagers, that “life is worth living” while the government simultaneously executes their friends with the same condition. As point out many psychologists, even leaving the option of suicide on the table undermines the premise that there is hope on the other side of depression. If only to give those fighting for their lives a chance, suicide, whether “medically assisted” or not, should remain a culturally unthinkable option.
Unfortunately, not only is suicide becoming more and more acceptable, but it is increasingly seen as a sort of “final solution” to other ills, both personal and social. For example, many are alarmed that in Canada, those living in poverty and with pre-existing disabilities are put to death at disproportionate rates. As an Oxford-based journalist Yuan Yi Zhu wrote about a 35-year-old victim in Canada,“One wonders what autonomy a handicapped man had, lying in his own filth to weigh death over life.”
Offering death under the guise of compassion inevitably subjects human life to a medical cost-benefit analysis. States that execute their own citizens will find it impossible to not devalue them. And in a culture that promotes state-sponsored death, people who are granted the “right to die” soon feel it is their duty to die. Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have victims.