For release: Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

The sad case of the death of the Belgian Verbassem twins should sound warning bells to Tasmanian legislators likely to be debating euthanasia again this year, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

The deaf twins chose to be killed by legal euthanasia after learning that they were going blind, saying they’d have “nothing to live for” should they be kept alive.

ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said their unfortunate deaths highlight the “slippery slope” experienced by the handful of countries that have legislated state-sanctioned killing.

“Where do you draw the line when what is termed “unbearable pain” is so arbitrary? Taking two years for the twins to find a doctor willing to perform euthanasia points to the fact that there were plenty of medical practitioners uncomfortable with the idea,” Mr Brown said.

Current Belgian law allows euthanasia if a patient is able to make their wishes clear and a doctor deems their condition unbearable. The Belgian government is now looking at amending legislation to also allow euthanasia of children and Alzheimer’s suffers.

“We see the same problem in the Netherlands where in a survey of 800 doctors, 20% agreed they would be willing to euthanize a patient who was “tired of living”.

“We urge the Tasmanian Government to focus its efforts toward improving palliative care not legalising euthanasia, which has been rejected time and again by fully constituted parliaments and parliamentary inquires around Australia,” Mr Brown said.