What we have come to: Belgian brothers choose euthanasia over going blind—UPDATED

What we have come to: Belgian brothers choose euthanasia over going blind—UPDATED January 14, 2013

This is both heartbreaking and appalling.  From The Age in Australia:

Identical twins have been killed by Belgian doctors in a unique case under the country’s euthanasia laws.

The 45-year-old brothers from the Antwerp region were born deaf and sought euthanasia after finding that they would also soon go blind.

They told doctors that they were unable to bear the thought of not being able to see each other again.

The twins, who have not been named but have been pictured on Belgian television, had spent their entire lives together, sharing a flat and working as cobblers.

Belgium’s Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper reported at the weekend that doctors at Brussels University Hospital in Jette “euthanised” the two men by lethal injection on December 14.

Under Belgian law, euthanasia is allowed if those wishing to end their lives are able to make their wishes clear and a doctor judges that they are suffering unbearable pain.

David Dufour, the doctor who presided over the euthanasia, said the twins had died together and had taken the decision in “full conscience”.

“They were very happy. It was a relief to see the end of their suffering,” he 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.”

The case is unusual because neither of the men was terminally ill or suffering extreme physical pain.

Read the rest. 

God help us all.

UPDATE:  Ed Peters looks at the canonical aspects of this, and reaches the following conclusion:

We have to face it: sometimes, people do gravely evil things and leave the rest of us with no basis to conclude other than that they did so deliberately. That calls for no judging of souls; that’s just taking seriously one’s observable conduct.

Deaf twins in Belgium, middle-aged and by all accounts in good health, recently learned that they were, at some unspecified point in the future, to go blind (Usher Syndrome?) Apparently in full compliance with Belgium suicide laws, they arranged for and committed suicide together. In so doing, I think, they plainly and publicly committed a gravely sinful act, left a horrid example to others facing these or similar physical challenges, and contributed mightily to society’s growing assumption that the disabled are better off killing themselves.

News reports don’t indicate whether the twins were Catholic. If they were, though, nothing in those reports suggests any basis for according them the Church’s liturgical commendations into the next life. Prayers for their souls, certainly (even Mass intentions, per Canon 901), but not our public rites. Not if the law on funerals means anything, and not if we care about persons facing similar, or even worse, trials in this life.

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