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Catholic nursing home in Belgium fined for refusing euthanasia request

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(RNS) A Belgian court has fined a Catholic care home for refusing to let a terminally ill woman receive a lethal injection on their property.

In 2011, doctors went to the Sint-Augustinus nursing home in Diest, northern Belgium, to carry out a euthanasia request by Mariette Buntjens, a 74-year-old woman who was suffering from terminal lung cancer.

But the medics were refused access by staff at the Catholic home, Flanders Today reported.

Relatives of the cancer patient later moved her out of Sint-Augustinus so she could be given the injection.

Earlier this year, the patient’s family members took the case to court, where they argued Buntjens suffered unnecessarily from the home’s decision.

The three judges on the civil court panel unanimously ruled that “the nursing home had no right to refuse euthanasia on the basis of conscientious objection.”

The organization behind the Sint-Augustinus home was ordered to pay 6,000 euros ($6,700) in damages to the patient’s family.

Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002, and the procedure is also available in other European countries, such as the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The Catholic Church is opposed to assisted dying and has described euthanasia as a crime “against life” along with murder and genocide. Pope Francis has said euthanasia represents a “false compassion” and is a “sin against God the Creator.”

“We all know that with so many old people, in this culture of waste, there is this hidden euthanasia,” he remarked in 2014.

(Rosie Scammell covers the Vatican for RNS)

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Rosie Scammell

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