Children’s right to die affirmed in Belgium

A long-running debate over a child’s right to die is coming to a head after the passage of a bill by Belgium’s upper house of parliament agreeing to extend the country’s euthanasia law to children.

Belgian senators voted 50-17 in favor of the bill in early December. If adopted by the lower house, the measure will make Belgium the first country to allow euthanasia for children who are terminally ill and living with “constant and unbearable physical suffering.” The child would have to submit a written request for the procedure, have a “capacity for discernment” and obtain consent from his or her parents.

Conservative lawmakers said they feared the legislation could be abused and argued that it would be difficult to determine whether a child is sufficiently able to make such a decision alone.

Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders in Belgium condemned the bill as trivializing death and setting society on a dangerous path.

 

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