Belgian doctors euthanized a set of identical twins who were born deaf and learned that they were going blind. The brothers, 45, are from Antwerp and they chose death because they could not deal with the fact that they would not be able to see each other anymore.
The procedure occurred at Brussels University Hospital in Jette on December 14 using lethal injection. The men spent their entire lives together. Under Belgian law it is legal to commit euthanasia if the people who make the decision make sure their wishes are clear and are also suffering from unbearable pain.
In 2011, some 1,133 cases involving euthanasia took place, the majority of them for terminal cancer. According to official figures, that amount accounted for one percent of all deaths in the country. Neither one of the twins was terminally ill or suffering from extreme physical pain.
The doctor who performed the procedure, David Dufour, said that the men made their decision in ‘full conscience.’ Dufour noted that the men were ‘very happy’ and that it was a ‘relief’ to see that their suffering had ended. ‘They had a cup of coffee in the hall, it went well and a rich conversation,’ Dufour said.
“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.”
Belgium legalized euthanasia back in 2002, becoming just the second country in the world to legalize the procedure behind the Netherlands. The law only allows the procedure for those who are over 18 years of age. It is also permitted in Luxembourg and the state of Oregon.
A couple of days following the death of the twins, the Socialists in Belgium tabled a legal amendment that would permit the procedure for children and Alzheimer’s patients. The legislation calls for ‘the law to be extended to minors if they are capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate.’