First Child Dies Under Belgian Law Allowing Euthanasia of Minors

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The first child in Belgium has been euthanized since the passage of a law removing age restrictions on when doctors may end the lives of terminally-ill patients at their request.

Sen. Jean-Jacques De Gucht, who wrote the law passed in 2014, confirmed the death of the child to reporters this week. While he did not provide many details, he said that the physician-assisted suicide took place last week after the youth requested euthanasia, and that the minor was from the Flemish region of Belgium.

The name and age of the child are not known.

De Gucht expressed thankfulness that the country’s option to die now applies to sick children.

Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002, but a provision allowing for the inclusion of minors was removed following uproar. The law consequently set the age limit at 18.

But in 2014, De Gucht proposed language that would do away with age restrictions, and was successful in his bid. The law now requires that the child be in the final stages of the terminal illness, understand the meaning of death versus life and have requested to die more than once. The parents must also provide consent, as well as two doctors, including a psychiatrist.

“This can only be in cases of serious and incurable diseases, which is the same thing for adults … but for minors an additional condition is that the death must be expected in the near future,” Jacqueline Herremans, the president of Belgium’s Association for the Right to Die with Dignity, told RTBF Radio.
However, others have expressed deep concern over the development.

“Ultimately this is a triumph for out-and-out nihilism, not just Belgium’s inventive euthanasia lobby. Nihilism is a philosophical fad which seems to catching on in the world of bioethics,” wrote Michael Cook of Mercatornet. “If I’m right, euthanizing a child is not a terminus for Belgian euthanasia, but just a bus stop en route to pure nihilism. What its supporters are trying to eliminate is not just pain, but life itself. ” Full Report


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