A controversial measure allowing children the “right to die” is expected to pass the Belgium parliament on Thursday. If passed, the European nation would become the first in the world to allow terminally ill minors the option to end their lives.
In December, the Belgium Senate passed the amendment to a 2002 law, which originally allowed euthanasia in very specific circumstances. Under the former measure, parents had to consent, and the minor had to show a “capacity for discernment.” The new law, however, removes these restrictions and broadens the scope of what’s allowed.
According to USA Today, the new measure enjoys wide public support:
“Polls indicate Belgians overwhelming support euthanasia and the measure to lift its age restrictions: A recent poll found that 75% want the right to die extended.”
However, many doctors and psychologists have pointed out the enormous ethical problems with extending voluntary euthanasia to minors:
"Minors decide more impulsively than adults and they don't have the same perspective of short-term and long-term decisions," said Els van Hoof, a lawmakers from the Christian Democratic and Flemish party.
"Their brains aren't as developed on an emotional, moral or cognitive level as an adult, and they are more depending on the influence of authority and authority in this case would be the doctors or the parents."
There are also concerns about abuse of the law. A 2010 study by the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 32% of all euthanasia deaths in Belgium’s Flanders region occurred without an explicit request. LIfeNews.com reports on other serious issues in the country:
“The number of euthanasia deaths in Belgium is skyrocketing with an increase of 25% in 2012. Recent studies indicate that up to 47% of all assisted deaths are not being reported, 32% of all assisted deaths are being done without request and nurses are killing their patients, even though the law restricts euthanasia to doctors.”
Results of the vote were not available at press time.
Publication Date: February 13, 2014