24 Apr 2016

Pieter Hintjens is Dying

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Pieter Hintjens, 1962-

Pieter Hintjens is a (half-Scottish) Belgian software developer, aged 53, who is suffering from metastasized bile duct cancer. Being who he is, he naturally published on his blog a “protocol,” explaining his identity and circumstances and indicating how other people and he himself ought, in his view, to deal with the situation.

The contemporary supergeek is an unusual and exotic variant subspecies of humanity, and his protocol, I thought, illustrates particularly vividly that subgroup’s characteristic strengths and weaknesses.

I am, finally, so glad I never quit Belgium. This country allows for death on demand, for patients who are terminal or have a bad enough quality of life. It takes three doctors and a psychiatrist, in the second case, and four weeks’ waiting period. In the first case, it takes one doctor’s opinion.

My dad chose this, and died on Easter Tuesday. Several of us his family were with him. It is a simple and peaceful process. One injection sent him to sleep, into a coma. The second stopped his heart. It was a good way to die, and though I didn’t know I was sick then, one I already wanted.

I’m shocked that in 2016 few countries allow this, and enforce the barbaric torture of decay and failure. It’s especially relevant for cancer, which is a primary cause of death. Find a moment in your own jurisdiction, if it bans euthanasia, to lobby for the right to die in dignity.

2 Feedbacks on "Pieter Hintjens is Dying"


It’s fine and all, way he talks about it, if that is what one actually CHOOSES, and it assumes that all those euthanized CHOOSE to be so. Out of free will. However, there comes a slippery slope. How often will a senior who’s too much of an “inconvenience” to her children be sent off to the movies at the “Home” clinic? Is someone who is depressed to be given a legal injection? When will it become a matter of routinely shipping people off to the purple roofed parlors?

I have known people who died, slow deaths from cancer, who maintained a sense of joy to the end, through the pain and fog of morphine. Me, I’m terrified of dying. But I pray I can be like those I have known who still lived life to the end.


It seems consistent with what I know about Belgium that the one thing they do efficiently is commit suicide.


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