The news that the Belgian parliament had legalised euthanasia for children under 18 made news around the world in 2014. But what has actually happened since then?
According to the chairman of the Belgian euthanasia commission, Dr Wim Distelmans, only two children have been euthanised, both in or after 2016. "The situation is similar to the situation in the Netherlands, where five cases have been recorded in ten years,” he says. “We have only had two cases in three years.”
"We knew that there wouldn’t be many," says Professor Distelmans. "Some 100,000 adults die every year in Belgium for every 1,000 minors. When it is known that 2,000 deaths in adults are the result of euthanasia, there couldn’t be many among minors. Children can only apply when they are terminally ill, while euthanasia is possible for adults even if they aren’t terminally ill patients."
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