A Catholic nursing home in Belgium is being fined for refusing to help a terminally ill patient end her life.
The Catholic Herald reports the patient asked to be put to death by lethal injection. But the nursing home declined this request by blocking the doctor who would administer the injection from seeing her.
After the patient died days later, her family sued the nursing home for causing their mother "unnecessary mental and physical suffering."
A federal court in Belgium then ordered the care home to pay more than $6,000 for their actions. The judges who presided over the case say "the nursing home had no right to refuse euthanasia on the basis of conscientious objection."
Sylvie Tack, the family's lawyer, says only a physician can make an objection.
"Only a physician can invoke a conscientious objection. This is an important precedent for the entire industry," he told the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.
However, many believe this case is not about preserving the private relationship between the doctor and patient, but about protecting life.
"It shows yet again that life is held in such a low regard in Belgium," said Robet Flello, Labour MP for Stroke-on-Trent South.
"It is an absolute tragedy that euthanasia is now seen to be a right. If you look around the world, anywhere assisted suicide has been introduced there is a constant erosion of any safeguards that have been put in place. This a further leap down the slippery path warned about time and time again and it shows that those warnings were true," he added.
Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2003 and has one of the most permissive euthanasia laws in the world -- a law that has been repeatedly abused in the past.
The Journal of Medial Ethics reported last year that a majority of euthanasia cases in Belgium included patients who were illegally "put to death" by doctors without first giving consent.