NRL News

A plea from a son of a euthanized Belgian woman

by | Jun 3, 2015

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Tom Mortier

Tom Mortier

The recent 2015 HOPE International Symposium opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide featured many excellent speakers, including Professor Tom Mortier, whose depressed mother died by euthanasia in Belgium.

Rebecca DiGirolamo interviewed Mortier at the Symposium in Australia for the Southern Cross news.

DiGirolamo’s article begins by expressing Mortier’s purpose for speaking at the Symposium in Australia.

The son of a clinically depressed woman euthanized under Belgium’s liberal laws has warned Australian politicians against legalizing euthanasia.

“I want to warn people by telling my story,” said Mr. Mortier, a chemistry professor in Belgium.

He said his mother was a 64-year-old woman in perfect physical health with a treatable illness when she was killed by lethal injection in 2012 following a relationship break-up.

He said he was not involved in the decision making process nor was he contacted by the doctor who euthanized her, Dr. Wim Distelmans.

The article continues by outlining the direction for euthanasia in Belgium:

Dr. Distelmans made world headlines when he euthanized Nathan Verhelst on the grounds of “unbearable psychological suffering” after failed sex reassignment surgery and gave lethal injections to 45-year-old congenitally deaf twins who were frightened they were also going blind.

In 2013, a record 1807 people were euthanized under Belgian laws passed in 2002 (some academics believe many more cases go unreported) – up to 60 of them suffered mental illness. In February this year Belgium became the first country to allow euthanasia for children.

Mortier told DiGirolamo that his life has changed dramatically since his mother’s death as he continues to grapple with the legal killing of a woman with a mental illness without any consultation with her family. The article continues:

Mr. Mortier wants Australian politicians considering the same path to understand the impact prescribed killing has on society’s most vulnerable, but also on those left behind.

“I can be a father of three children who wants to be killed by someone who wants to kill me and I won’t have to have any more responsibility to my own children – is this the world we want to live in? That self-determination is absolute and that you only have to take care of yourself and you don’t have any responsibility for others? This creates a lot, a lot of fundamental problems,” he said.

Mr. Mortier launched a case before the European Court of Human Rights challenging the action of Dr. Distelmans, who killed his mother, and the Belgian euthanasia law.

The Hope Australia Symposium was the Fourth International Symposium opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide. The two-day event had 110 delegates including nurses, doctors, academics and campaigners against euthanasia and assisted suicide in attendance.

Editor’s note. This appeared at

Categories: Euthanasia