In December 2012, Belgian twins requested euthanasia "based on a diagnosis of glaucoma, a degenerative condition of the optical nerve which can lead to blindness."The European Institute of Bioethics (EIB) has examined the case and published its analysis.
The EIB goes on to point out that "the general public, especially abroad, is above all shocked by the fact that the twins had not reached the terminal stage of their illness," but reminds us that "Belgian law also permits euthanasia when death is not imminent." In this latter case, the law requires that "another medical opinion has to be sought either from an independent medical practitioner, from a psychiatrist or else a doctor specialized in the pathology in question" and "at least another month of reflection has to pass between the time of the patient’s written request and the act of euthanasia itself." The Institute says it believes that in the case of the twins, "a psychiatrist with the medical team which euthanized the twins was consulted."
However, the EIB explains, "this matter has caused a certain degree of unease" because "it is as though, imperceptibly, euthanasia has come to represent the most dignified human response to situations of suffering." The European Institute of Bioethics points out that "the Belgian law is designed and has been interpreted in such wide terms that euthanasia and medically-assisted suicide appear acceptable from the moment the interested person has freely formulated his or her request." While it lays down, among other conditions, an incurable disease and the patient "has to be able to make a case for unbearable physical or psychological suffering," it is a fact that "the list of incurable conditions is practically unending" and "the notion of psychological suffering is left to the subjective appreciation of the sufferer."