Belgium considers legalizing euthanasia for minors
Belgium's House of Parliament. Credit: ChadBriggs via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).
Belgium's House of Parliament. Credit: ChadBriggs via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Despite religious opposition, the Belgian Senate voted Dec. 13 in favor of a bill which would expand legal euthanasia to terminally ill minors and persons with dementia.

The bill now has to be considered by the country’s lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Representatives, which is widely expected to approve it. The bill passed in the Senate by a margin of 50-17.

After the bill was passed by the Senate's justice and social affairs committee, a coalition of Belgian religious leaders wrote, “We share the anguish of parents if a child's life comes to a premature end, especially when the child suffers. We believe, however, that only palliative care and sedation in a dignified manner can accompany a child dying of disease.”

The letter was signed by Catholic Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Mechelen-Brussel, as well as an Orthodox patriarch, several Protestant leaders, a rabbi, and the president of the Belgian Muslim's Executive.

“We plead for an end to aggresive therapies and for their replacement by curative or palliative care. We believe that we have no right to let a child suffer: which is why suffering can and must be relieved. Medicine has the means to do this.”

The religious leaders added that euthanization “trivializes the act of killing.” They said “we are made for life.”

Allowing the killing of young terminal patients would have consequences, they warned.

“Love to the end requires an immense courage; terminating a life is an act which not only kills the patient, but destroys a few more ties that exist in our society, in our families, in the grip of a growing individualism.”

The leaders had said in a Nov. 6 letter that “euthanasia of vulnerable persons, whether children or persons with dementia, is a radical contradiction of their status as human beings. We cannot therefore into into a logic which destroys the foundations of society.”

The bill would allow minors, with no set age limit, to receive euthanasia if they suffer from terminal illness, are in great pain, and there is no way to treat their disease. The patient would also have to be conscious of their decision and understand what euthanasia is. The child's parents and doctors would both have to approve the request.

Adults already have the legal right to receive deadly drugs.

A group of 16 pediatricians lobbied for the law, saying that “in cases of serious illness and imminent death, minors develop very quickly a great maturity, to the point where they are often better able to reflect and express themselves on life than healthy people.”

Archbishop Léonard countered that “it is strange that minors are considered legally incompetent in key areas, such as getting married, but might (be able) to decide to die.”

Legislators opposed to the bill said that it could be difficult to determine whether children would have the capacity to make such a decision.

Els Van Hoof of the Christian Democratic and Flemish Party noted that children are susceptible to the influence of their parents and physicians.

Belgium’s religious leaders also cited concerns about the bill's effect on healthcare workers, warning that there might not be safeguards for freedom of conscience.

Belgium passed its first euthanasia law in 2002. The following year, 235 persons were euthanized. In 2012, there were 1,432 cases.

The law’s promised safeguards appear not to have been followed. According to The Washington Times, the European Institute of Bioethics found that “the safeguards and strict conditions of the law were almost immediately cast aside” after the 2002 law was passed.

But a Socialist Party senator, Philippe Mahoux, claimed that in the past 10 years, the independent commission “to evaluate cases of euthanasia” in the country “had no abuses reported.”

Efforts in Belgium to extend euthanasia to children and those with dementia were proposed but defeated in both 2004 and 2008.

Euthanasia or assisted suicide are also legal in Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Tags: Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia, Belgium

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 27, 2015

Tuesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 3:22-30


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 3:22-30