ADF International


Euthanasia laws–Belgium in clear violation of rights to family and life

ADF International represents Tom Mortier at the European Court of Human Rights; Mr Mortier’s right to private and family life and his mother’s right to life violated

STRASBOURG/BRUSSELS – His mother was euthanized without him even being informed. On 7 November 2017, ADF International filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Tom Mortier. The case Mortier v. Belgium focuses on the right to life and the right to family life, which are both protected under the European Convention on Human Rights. Belgian authorities have refused to pursue Mr. Mortier’s case. The top court in Europe is now his only chance to seek justice for the loss of his mother. Its findings will impact 800 million Europeans in 47 countries.

“The big problem in our society is that apparently we have lost the meaning of taking care of each other,” said Tom Mortier.

“My mother had a severe mental problem. She had to cope with depression throughout her life. She was treated for years by psychiatrists and eventually the contact between us was broken. A year later she received a lethal injection. Neither the oncologist who administered the injection nor the hospital had informed me or any of my siblings that our mother was even considering euthanasia. I found out a day later when I was contacted by the hospital, asking me to take care of the practicalities.”

The slippery slope of euthanasia laws

When euthanasia was first legalized, promises were made that it would be well regulated with strict criteria. But today, 15 years later, the number of cases each year has increased by 780% from when it was first legalized. Belgium went further in 2014 by legalizing child euthanasia—there is now no age restriction for minors in Belgium.

There have been cases in which symptoms of worsening eyesight, hearing and mobility can be considered “unbearable suffering” which qualify patients for euthanasia. Lawmakers have proposed limiting freedom of conscience and silencing doctors who are opposed to carrying out euthanasia. Most recently, in the Netherlands, a bill has been proposed to allow euthanasia just for being ‘tired of life.’

We will be judged as a society by how we care for our most vulnerable.

“We will be judged as a society by how we care for our most vulnerable. International law has never established a so-called ‘right to die.’ On the contrary, it solidly affirms a right to life – particularly for the most vulnerable among us. The slippery slope is on full public display in Belgium and we now see the tragic consequences. More than five people per day are euthanized. And that may yet be the tip of the iceberg. Belgium has set itself on a trajectory that – at best – implicitly tells its most vulnerable that their lives are not worth living,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy, who represents Tom Mortier before the Court.

More expert information on euthanasia laws worldwide

ADF International, a global human rights organization, advocating for respect of the right to life and for freedom of conscience, has published a white paper entitled The Legalization of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. It documents the harmful consequences of existing euthanasia laws and practices, showing that there is no so-called ‘right to die’ in international law. The white paper aims to equip those involved in this debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide across the world, and is a part of the “Affirming Dignity” campaign.

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Faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.