Yesterday the Belgium Senate approved, by a vote of 50-17, a bill allowing terminally ill children to opt for euthanasia. As long as the child meets the normal Belgium standards for euthanasia (terminal; in great pain; conscious of this decision; has parental and medical approval), there will no longer be any age limit on the practice. The BBC has more:
During the Senate debate, supporters of the bill said it would empower doctors and terminally-ill children to make a difficult decision.“There is no age for suffering and, next to that, it’s very important that we have a legal framework for the doctors who are confronted with this demand today and for the minors, for the capable minors, who are suffering today, and who I think should have the freedom to choose how they cope with their suffering,” said Senator Jean-Jacques de Gucht, of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats.
This story shows just how quickly allowing limited mercy killing for terminally ill adults can lead to wider political and social consequences. It’s now common knowledge that euthanasia cases skyrocketed in Belgium after it was legalized for adults—the number of cases increased by 25 percent from 2011 to 2012—and that legality manufactures demand. It’s less often acknowledged that legalizing euthanasia can give cover to people who want to pressure relatives into it for financial or other reasons.Consider the Netherlands, where doctors are never prosecuted for euthanizing children under age 12, even though that is still legally forbidden. There the illness doesn’t have to be terminal—just very painful—and the Royal Dutch Medical Association says the pain doesn’t even have to be physical. That same association has recently come out in favor of euthanizing infants and newborns, a practice which has already been going on for several years.But never fear. While both Belgium and the Netherlands are busy allowing euthanasia for people who aren’t even old enough to consent to sex by their own laws, the Royal Dutch Medical Association has launched another campaign: stamping out circumcision, which is a “violation of children’s rights.”