Lawmakers of Belgium’s coalition government have urged debate on a euthanasia law currently in Parliament that would allow “minors with incurable diseases and people who suffer from severe dementia” to “end their lives voluntarily if that is their wish.”
“We will not leave the ethical debate as it has been during the last four years,” said liberal leader Bart Tommelein. Tommelein has pledged to bring forward new legislative proposals extending euthanasia to children and old people suffering from such severe dementia that they are unable to choose for themselves. "We will seek, as Liberals, parliamentary majorities," he said.
The debate over the moral legitimacy of euthanasia has escalated since the death of Belgium writer Hugo Claus, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and requested to be euthanized. His decision was praised by liberal party members.
Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Brussels denounced euthanasia during his homily on Easter Sunday. "Avoiding suffering is no act of bravery," he said. "Our society seems unable to cope with death and suffering."
Euthanasia was approved by Belgium in 2002, and in 2007, the association Death with Dignity registered 495 cases of euthanasia.