Belgium introduces euthanasia for prisoners

Belgium allows euthanasia under very stringent conditions and now permits prisoners also to choose euthanasia.

If you agree with the concept of euthanasia  then the idea of allowing prisoners to opt for euthanasia would seem perfectly rational. There are ethical questions here which I am still thinking my way through but I think there are some dilemmas to be faced. However I cannot help feeling that a prisoner – almost by definition – is inevitably subject to some level of coercion. Within an isolated and vulnerable prison population where individuals are probably subject to the additional pressures of group phobias and pressure, I am not sure that an apparently voluntary choice can ever be a completely free choice.

And I have an additional dimension of nagging concern when organs for transplantation are harvested from euthanasia subjects:

BioEdge reports:

For the first time, a Belgian prisoner has been euthanased. A man identified as Frank V.D.B, who had spent 20 years in prison for two murders and rapes, died recently. The date is not clear from media reports, but it took place outside the prison. The death only became known because it was revealed by a politician, Senator Louis Ide, who was complaining about the lack of social services in Belgian jails. He seems to have been tipped off by a prison official.

The case has provoked a controversy in the media –not over euthanasia but over the violation of the prisoner’s right to privacy. All of the conditions for euthanasia in Belgium were carefully fulfilled: the prisoner had a terminal illness, he had made repeated requests for death, and three doctors had independently ratified the request. ….. 

Last year Belgian surgeons revealed that they had been harvesting organs obtained from persons who had requested euthanasia.

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