British campaigners warn against assisted dying laws following ‘truly shocking’ case of Belgian woman, 23, who was euthanised after being ‘traumatised’ by ISIS attack
- Shanti De Corte died in May after medics agreed she could be legally euthanised
- She was depressed and had PTSD after surviving terror attack in 2016
- Her request to die was approved by two psychiatrists and she died on May 7
A physically healthy 23-year-old was helped to take her own life in a ‘truly shocking’ euthanasia case in Belgium.
Shanti De Corte, traumatised after a terror attack in 2016, died in May after medics agreed she was so depressed that she could be legally euthanised.
Last night, British campaigners fighting the introduction of assisted dying laws warned that even if a narrowly defined act was brought in, it would inevitably broaden over time to include those with mental health problems.
But Dignity in Dying, which is calling for a change in the law, said there was ‘no evidence’ from around the world that this tended to happen.
Ms De Corte, from Antwerp, developed depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being caught up at Brussels Airport in the Islamic State attack of March 2016 which killed 32.
Shanti De Corte, traumatised after a terror attack in 2016, died in May after medics agreed she was so depressed that she could be legally euthanised
Although physically unscathed, she never got over the attack and attempted suicide twice before asking doctors to help end her life. Under Belgian law, euthanasia is allowed to a person in ‘a medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental pain that cannot be alleviated’. There is no lower age limit.
Ms De Corte’s request was approved by two psychiatrists and she died on May 7.
Andrea Williams of Christian Concern said: ‘It is truly shocking that an otherwise healthy, but traumatised 23-year-old was euthanised rather than cared for. With proper help, she could have lived a long, fulfilling life. This case shows how slippery the slope is once you allow euthanasia in law.’
Ms De Corte, from Antwerp, developed depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being caught up at Brussels Airport in the Islamic State attack of March 2016 which killed 32. Pictured: With a friend on a post shared to a tribute page
UK campaigners for assisted dying stress that their proposals explicitly exclude those with mental health problems. They argue that it should be legal only for what Dignity in Dying calls ‘terminally ill, mentally competent adults’.
Sarah Wootton, the organisation’s chief executive, said: ‘The evidence from the US, Australia and New Zealand tells us that tightly drafted and safeguarded laws with these strict criteria remain that way. People in Ms De Corte’s position wouldn’t be eligible for an assisted death under any proposed UK legislation.’
But Dr Claud Regnard, honorary consultant in palliative care at St Oswald’s Hospice in Newcastle, argued the pressure to include more people would be inexorable: ‘People talk about safeguards. But even now some are saying the safeguards envisaged would be discriminatory.’
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