Politics & Policy

The Corner

Acid Attack Leading to Euthanasia a Murder?

This is an awful story but it shows how the assisted suicide movement greatly harms the culture and despairing individuals at their times of greatest vulnerability.

Mark van Dongen was paralyzed by his former girlfriend with acid–a horrific crime. He survived the assault but was in so much pain–and despairing over his disability and disfigurement–he asked to be euthanized in Belgium. From the Guardian story:

An engineer who was left paralysed and disfigured after an acid attack allegedly carried out by his jealous ex-girlfriend died in a euthanasia clinic 15 months later having decided he could not face a life of pain, her murder trial has been told…

Van Dongen, who had begun to see another woman, suffered 25% burns, lost a leg, his left eye and most of the sight in his right eye and was left paralysed.

He applied for euthanasia in Belgium, which was approved after three consultants examined him. It was decided his was a case of “unbearable physical and psychological suffering” and he died in January this year aged 29…

He was kept in an isolated ward in intensive care for six months before being moved to a burns ward, spending a total of 14 months at Southmead.

Vaitlingam said: “Sometimes he said he wanted to live, at other times that he wanted to die.”

His father hired an ambulance to take him to Belgium, where doctors there confirmed he would be paralysed for life and need maximum doses of pain relief. He successfully applied for euthanasia.

Here’s the thing: The attack was not fatal. The person who actually killed van Dongen was the doctor.

That added further harm to the existing tragedy. Over time, with help from a loving community and engaged medical/psychiatric team, van Dongen might have regained the will to live. It has happened before.

So, can a person who makes a person want to die from an attack be charged with his murder because he had himself killed?

The lawyer in me says no. She did not kill van Dongen. I don’t think making someone want to die is the same thing.

So, throw the book at the monster with the maximum for what she actually did, which was attempted murder and an egregious assault and battery.

Frankly, I wish the doctor could be charged with murder. He’s the one who actually committed homicide. In the name of compassion, he’s the one who ended all hope.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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