June 13 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

13- Belgian Euthanasia

Euthanasia for children proposed in Belgium

Belgium is on the verge of becoming the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia for children.

by Cristina Marini

The proposal, given to the Belgian parliament on Tuesday, would allow doctors to make a decision on a case-by-case basis based on the severity of the child’s health and maturity.

Belgium has had legal euthanasia for over a decade, but until now it was prohibited for children. This new development has caused consternation among opponents of euthanasia including the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels (above) said that the Catholic Church had expressed ‘strong reservations regarding the decriminalization of euthanasia as early as 2002’ and that this bill should not be passed because ‘first and foremost because we have excellent palliative care available today, and because we can rely on sedation, to the extent strictly necessary’.

If the bill becomes law Belgians under the age of 18 would be able to legally end their own life but would not be allowed to marry or vote.

One local expert, Peter Deconinck, president of the Belgian medical ethnic organization, Reflectiegroep Biomedische Ethiek, said the practice was already allowed, saying ‘we all know that euthanasia is already practiced on children.’

Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002, becoming only second country in the world to do so. According to official figures euthanasia now accounts for one percent of all deaths in the country.

The new bill would also allow euthanasia to be carried out on those deemed as unable to make a proper decision on if they wish to end their own life, those with Alzehimer’s and diseases which would lead to an advanced dementia.


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