Belgian Woman Suffocated with Pillow After Euthanasia Cocktail Left Her Screaming
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A public prosecution office in Belgium is investigating a euthanasia program after two nurses reportedly suffocated a woman with a pillow when the cocktail of drugs administered to kill her didn't work.
Le Soir, a European media outlet, reported that 36-year-old Alexina Wattiez requested euthanasia with a program in the city of Liège after being diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2021.
In 2022, her health began to rapidly decline and she and her partner, Christophe Stulens, prepared for her death.
Stulens told Le Soir that a doctor and two nurses came to his home one evening before her death. Stulens and his 15-year-old daughter stayed to say their goodbyes.
"After a short night's sleep, I was woken up by a nurse who told me that Alexina was doing very badly," Stulens said. "Then the doctor took some syringes and we were asked if we wanted to say goodbye."
Stulens was then instructed to wait outside on their terrace while they administered drugs to Wattiez. He said an event that he expected to be peaceful turned horrific.
They heard screaming coming from her room.
"I recognized her voice," he said. "Afterwards we saw her lying on the bed with her eyes and mouth open."
An autopsy found that Wattiez died of asphyxiation.
According to Le Soir, nurses allegedly took turns using a pillow to suffocate her.
"Alexina wanted to sleep peacefully, but apparently there were too few resources," Stulens said.
Stulens is suing the organization.
"Their goal is not to demand sanctions but to provoke a debate and that this type of affair never happens again," he said.
"Could you imagine that your mother or your wife could end up suffocated by a cushion as part of her end of life? I think no one can conceive and imagine that," said Maître Renaud Molders-Pierre, a lawyer for the family.
Meanwhile, the Public Prosecution Service of Liège has now opened a murder investigation.
Euthanasia is defined as the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way.
***If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can find help through the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing just three numbers on your phone: 988
In 2014, Belgium passed legislation that allowed euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit.
As CBN News has reported, under the law, if both parents agree their child should be killed, three doctors and a psychologist would then have to certify that the child was aware of the consequences of his or her decision. The child would have to be under medical care.
Despite Belgium's efforts to legalize and expand access to euthanasia, Belgian politicians are now condemning what happened to Wattiez.
"What happened is not euthanasia," Belgian politician and doctor Jacques Brotchi told RTL Info. "Such a definition of this terrible situation devalues the gesture of euthanasia, which accompanies a person to the end without pain."
According to Live Action News, the drugs used in these situations are the same as the ones used in executions which are known to fail at times.
"The death penalty is not the same as assisted dying, of course. Executions are meant to be punishment; euthanasia is about relief from suffering. Yet for both euthanasia and executions, paralytic drugs are used," Dr. Joel Zivot, an associate professor of anesthesiology and surgery at the Emory School of Medicine told the outlet.
He continued, "These drugs, given in high enough doses, mean that a patient cannot move a muscle, cannot express any outward or visible sign of pain. But that doesn't mean that he or she is free from suffering."
Zivot further explains that fluid often fills the patient's lungs and they end up drowning while they are paralyzed.
"Advocates of assisted dying owe a duty to the public to be truthful about the details of killing and dying," Zivot continued. "People who want to die deserve to know that they may end up drowning, not just falling asleep."
Euthanasia is currently illegal in the U.S. in all 50 states, but is legal in countries like Canada and Belgium. Meanwhile, assisted suicide, which involves a person taking the action to end their own life, is legal in 9 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.
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