This is Part 2 of my observations from the 2nd International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide recently held in Lansdowne, Virginia. Click here to read Part 1, Assisted Suicide in the United Kingdom.
I’d like to bring you the story of Lionel Roosemont and his wife Renate. Lionel is a husband and father of four from Belgium. He talked about the culture of death in that country and how his family has had to deal with the implications of that paradigm. It should be noted that euthanasia is legal in Belgium.
When Renate was in the 7th month of pregnancy with their 4th child, she felt something was wrong. They went to their local clinic where doctors told them that the baby had hydrocephalus. The doctors immediately advised that Renate get an abortion because the baby would probably not live long after birth. The doctors told the Roosemonts that the baby will most likely be blind, deaf, and paralyzed. Although Lionel and Renate kept asking the doctors for other options, they were continually told that an abortion was the only answer. Lionel and Renate refused to end the baby’s life. However, they did begin preparing for the baby dying shortly after birth. They chose the name Tikvah for their daughter, which means “jewel.” Fully prepared for her death, Lionel was surprised when the doctor came into the waitng room to tell him that the baby was doing fine and scored between 9 and 10 on the Apgar tests.
Although Tikva has significant disabilities, the family loves her and cares for her; she has brought much joy and love into their lives. Lionel said, “People who cannot accept that we live in a less-than-perfect world will have problems with children like Tikva.” He noted that currently there is pending legislation in Belgium that would legalize euthanasia for minors and infanticide (as the Netherlands have had since 2006). There are also moves to force hospitals to perform euthanasia.
In the 13 years since Tikva was born strangers, after seeing Tikva’s condition or hearing her cry uncontrollably as she sometimes does, have repeatedly come up to the family (even to the other children) and stated that it would be better to just give her an injection so she will die.
Lionel also talked about “the weekend clean-up” that often occurs in Belgian hospitals. He stated that when the socialized medicine program in Belgium can no longer afford to cover a patient’s treatment, doctors often “help” some of those patient to die. Lionel said that the family never leaves Tikva in the hospital alone in fear of what someone may do to her.
Lionel stated, “Once the beast of euthanasia is released, the future looks bleak.” He concluded with a little family history. Lionel’s father had fought in World War II at Dunkirk and with the Belgian Underground. His father and two uncles were captured and put into a Nazi concentration camp. Only his father survived the war.
“Are you ready for the coming ‘E’ battle?” was the question Lionel asked the attendees. He challenged us to remember “Little Belgium” as we did during World War I when the free world came to the aid of Belgium. Now the battle he asks us to fight for is “life”; not only for Belgians, but for ourselves as well.
Click here to read the final part from the symposium, The State of the States.