Twin brothers were euthanised -- because they were going blind. Sounds crazy, but the brothers actually chose to end their lives by euthanasia after they discovered they were going blind and wouldn't be able to see each other anymore. And they happen to live in Belgium, where euthanasia is legal. What's different about this case is that the brothers, who were born deaf, were 45 years old, not in physical pain, and otherwise healthy.
Last year, over 1,000 cases of euthanasia were reported in Belgium -- most of them by people with terminal illnesses. Not so with the brothers. But they chose to die after learning that they would not only not be able to hear each other for the rest of their lives, but not be able to see each other either. This seems like an unnecessarily cruel twist of fate for these two poor brothers!
The brothers reportedly worked as cobblers and lived together. I imagine going blind must have seemed like the end of their lives -- they must have relied on each other for almost everything. Imagine suddenly your whole world going silent and dark -- and you can no longer communicate with the person you love most.
The doctor who helped them leave the world said that they made their decision in "full conscience" and that they were "very happy" and that it was a "relief" to know their suffering would soon be over. Dr. David Dufour reportedly said:
They had a cup of coffee in the hall, it went well and a rich conversation. Then the separation from their parents and brother was very serene and beautiful. At the last there was a little wave of their hands and then they were gone.
This is a really sticky issue. On the one hand, the brothers may have adapted to their new circumstances and ended up thriving in their new lives. On the other, they may have tried to commit suicide -- perhaps choosing a messy, painful end or one that left them in worse condition than they were.
But does euthanasia of healthy people who happen to be suffering mean that the government is essentially sanctioning "grief suicide"-- saying that people who are in emotional pain should be allowed to die? And what does that say? Where would it end? What about people who are heartbroken or who have lost their jobs or savings? I think most people, at one time or another, think about ending it, but then are glad they didn't. I hope there's a "waiting period" in Belgium before euthanasia is granted, especially if the person wanting it is otherwise healthy.
Still, if the brothers didn't change their minds in the days leading up to the euthanasia, they must have been serious. What a horrible tragedy.
Do you think people should have the right to be euthanised?
Image via amslerPIX/Flickr