Belgian Catholic nursing home has to pay damages for refusing euthanasia


A Catholic nursing home in Belgium is reported to have fallen foul of the country's courts after refusing to permit a resident to access euthanasia.

The incident happened in 2011 when Huize Sint-Augustinus home in Diest refused to allow an elderly woman's doctor access to see her – when it was thought she was about to be given a lethal injection.

The home has been ordered to pay €6,000 (approx $6,600 or £5,000) in damaged to the family of the woman.

The civil court in Louvain ruled that "the nursing home did not have the right to refuse euthanasia on the grounds of conscientious objection."

In this case, the 74-year-old who had terminal cancer received the injection in her own house, rather than in the nursing home.

Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002 and the country is said to have the most liberal assisted suicide laws anywhere in the world. Belgium is held up as an example by campaigners on both sides of the debate over assisted suicide in the UK, US and elsewhere.

Local Archbishop Jozef De Kesel, of the diocese of Mechelen-Brussels, had previously said Catholic institutions have a right to refuse abortion and euthanasia.