Child euthanasia law expected this week in Belgium

Note: an earlier edition of BioEdge misrepresented a "written declaration" which originated in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. This is a petition signed by 61 representative, substitute and observer members of PACE, not a vote by PACE itself. This body has 321 representative members, 321 substitute members and 18 observer members. It is confusing and we got it wrong. Sorry.  

Belgium’s Parliament is expected to pass a controversial law permitting the voluntary euthanasia of children as early as next Thursday. The bill will allow minors to ask for a lethal injection if they are terminally ill, if they are in great pain and if there is no effective treatment. Their request has to be approved by the medical team and their parents. Supporters claim that there will only be about 10 to 15 cases a year.

The vote comes much earlier than previously expected. After the Senate passed the bill, the media predicted that a vote would take place in May. 

The proposed law has generated much discussion. On January 30, 61 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe submitted a declaration condemning its passage through the Belgian Senate. This bill, it said:  

betrays some of the most vulnerable children in Belgium by accepting that their lives may no longer have any inherent value or worth and that they should die;
mistakenly assumes that children are able to give appropriate informed consent to euthanasia and that they can understand the grave meaning and complex consequences associated with such a decision;
promotes the unacceptable belief that a life can be unworthy of life which challenges the very basis of civilised society.

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

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