The case of a young Belgian woman requesting euthanasia due to the failings in the social system acts as a wake-up call on the economic discrimination being suffered by patients.
In her testimony relayed by SudInfo and delivered by the Nieuwsblad media, Shanna, at 38 years old, revealed that she was suffering from Ehlers Danloss syndrome which causes extreme pain. She explained that she did not have sufficient financial resources to cover the medical costs and to pay for assistance. Although the disease remains incurable, treatments aimed at improving the comfort of patients do exist. Although she should be entitled to State benefits of 20,000 euros per year, the young woman has remained on a waiting list since 2017. However, she has only just received these funds in 2023 and only half the amount.
She thus declared: “I love life, but when you have to fight to survive every day, there comes a time when it must stop.” She is hoping that her appeal will get things to change in the Belgian system.
Especially as the system has already claimed a victim in Joke Mariman, suffering from the same syndrome as Shanna, who was euthanised through a lack of support. The 43-year-old woman denounced in vain the inadequacy of the financial resources of the Flemish government. She never received any additional health benefits, even after submitting a new emergency procedure.
“In telling my story, I wish to tell the government that we are not mere statistics, but we also have a face. I hope that they will understand that something fundamental has to change. For this to stop at last.” explains Shanna.
Dave Ceule, the Director of Independent Living asbl, which supports those suffering from physical and mental handicap, explains that he receives similar testimonies every week from the handicapped who cannot make ends meet financially whereas they should be entitled to benefits.
In Belgium, there are several types of priority groups who are entitled to health benefits. 17,000 people have as yet not received or have received only part of their health benefits. The Flemish minister for Well-being, Public Health and Families has reacted by promising an emergency procedure for those whose health is deteriorating rapidly.
This situation is not dissimilar to several situations observed in Canada, of patients requesting euthanasia due to a lack of financial means and appropriate support.
These signals must call us to act against any attempt to introduce euthanasia and assisted suicide in France as is being suggested by the government through its new bill on the end of life.