A Belgian woman, Nancy Verhelst, 44, was given legal euthanasia, most likely by lethal injection, on the grounds of "unbearable psychological suffering" on September 30. She had taken the name Nathan. "I was the girl that nobody wanted," said Verhelst just before her death. "While my brothers were celebrated," said Verhelst in an interview with the Het Laatste Nieuws daily, "I got a storage room above the garage as a bedroom. 'If you had been a boy,' my mother complained. I was tolerated, nothing more."
Dr. Wim Distelmans, a cancer specialist who carried out the euthanasia, gave lethal injections to congenitally deaf twins - Marc and Eddy Verbessen (45) - last year who were frightened they were also going blind. When a local hospital refused to carry out the twins' death wish, Distelmans provided the service. Dr. Distelmans argued that the twins were justified in their request for death at his hands due to their "unbearable psychological suffering."
Verhelst was given hormone therapy in 2009, followed by a mastectomy and surgery to construct a penis in 2012. But "none of these operations worked as desired".
"I was ready to celebrate my new birth," she told the newspaper. "But when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with myself. My new breasts did not match my expectations and my new penis had symptoms of rejection. I do not want to be... a monster. "
The number of such legal killings in Belgium have steeply increased year by year, reaching a record number in 2012 of 1,432. This was a 25 percent increase over the previous year. Meanwhile, there is debate in Belgium to extend euthanasia or "mercy killing" to children.
"The choice of Nathan Verhelst has nothing to do with fatigue of life," said the philosophical Dr. Distelmans. "There are other factors that meant he was in a situation with incurable, unbearable suffering. Unbearable suffering for euthanasia can be both physical and psychological. This was a case that clearly met the conditions demanded by the law. Nathan underwent counseling for six months."
Last month, figures showed that the number of people killed by medical euthanasia in the Netherlands has more than doubled in the 10 years since legislation was changed to permit it, rising 13 per cent last year to 4,188. Euthanasia carried out by doctors at the request of a patient is only legal in three European countries, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.