The following article was originally published in the Telegraph UK on February 2, 2015.
By Kevin Yuill
Tom Mortier never paid much attention to the discussion about voluntary death in his country. “I was like just about anyone else here in Belgium: I didn’t care at all,” he said. “If people want to die, it’s probably their choice. It didn’t concern me.”
But in April, 2012, ten years after the law changed to allow euthanasia, Mortier, a university lecturer, received a message at work. His 64-year-old mother, Godelieve De Troyer, who suffered from severe depression, had been euthanised the previous day. Would he be able to make the arrangements at the morgue?
His mother had largely broken off contact with the family but had informed him by email three months earlier that she was looking into euthanasia. Mortier did not dream that her request would be taken seriously because she was in perfect physical health. After his mother’s death, the doctor who gave her the injection assured Mortier that he was “absolutely certain” his mother didn’t want to live anymore. The shock felt by Mortier at the sudden – and unnecessary – loss of his mother inspired him to become a leading campaigner against Belgian euthanasia law.