Belgium Parliament Likely to Allow Doctors to Euthanize Children This Week

International   |   Dr. Peter Saunders   |   Feb 10, 2014   |   10:48AM   |   Brussels, Belgium

I have previously documented Belgium’s meteoric rise to become the euthanasia capital of Europe and its concomitant grisly descent down the slippery slope.

Now the country is moving to allow euthanasia for sick children.

The measure has already passed by 50 votes to 17 in Belgium’s upper house and only needs a vote in the lower house to pass fully into law.

The Bpicassistedsuicide15elgian government announced yesterday that the debate on the child euthanasia bill, in the Chamber of Deputies, will occur on 12 February.

According to the Belgian media the vote will likely happen the next day, but possibly on the same day of the debate.

The bill is being fast tracked likely because a strong opposition to it is developing.

A few weeks ago, a large protest was held in Brussels opposing the extension of euthanasia to children.

An English petition against the move has already gained over 56,000 signatures and other language versions of the petition are accessible on the home page of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe website (Please add your signature).

Last week 38 Belgian paediatricians denounced the child euthanasia bill. The paediatricians stated that extending euthanasia to children was not necessary because:

1. Even the most complex medical cases can be solved in the current legal framework, with the means and expertise at our disposal. For whom is this legislation therefore designed?

2. Children in Belgium are not suffering. The palliative care teams for children are perfectly capable of achieving pain relief, both in hospital and at home.

3. A sensitive child may perceive the option of euthanasia as a solution or a duty, especially if the child feels that the parents can no longer bear to see him suffer.

4. In practice, there is no objective method for determining whether a child is gifted with the ability of discernment and judgment. So this is actually largely subjective and subject to other influences.

The paediatricians concluded:

We believe that there is no urgency to pass this bill in the current legislature.

In a key demonstration of cross-continent opposition, parliamentarians from across Europe have now laid down a motion at the Council of Europe – best known for its focus on human rights – also denouncing this latest of alarming developments in the country’s law.

Written declaration no. 567, is entitled ‘Legalisation of euthanasia for children in Belgium’.

The Declaration states that extending euthanasia to children:

1. Betrays some of the most vulnerable children in Belgium by accepting that their lives may no longer have any inherent value or worth and that they should die

2. Mistakenly assumes that children are able give appropriate informed consent to euthanasia and that they can understand the grave meaning and complex consequences associated with such a decision

3. Promotes the unacceptable belief that a life can be unworthy of life which challenges the very basis of civilised society.

36 British MPs and Peers are members of the parliamentary assembly (18 principals and 18 substitutes – is your MP among them?) and thankfully seven have already signed the declaration.

They are:

·         James CLAPPISON MP (C, Hertsmere)
·         David DAVIES MP (C, Monmouth)
·         Sir Edward LEIGH MP (C, Gainsborough)
·         Jeffrey DONALDSON MP (DUP, Lagan Valley)
·         Joe BENTON MP (L, Bootle)
·         David CRAUSBY MP (L, Bolton North East)

·         Sir Alan MEALE MP (L, Mansfield)

Care Not Killing, for which I act as Campaign Director, has covered this issue in context a number of times (see here, here, here and here)  and fully endorses the parliamentarians’ view that the move ‘betrays some of the most vulnerable children in Belgium by accepting that their lives may no longer have any inherent value or worth and that they should die… [and] promotes the unacceptable belief that a life can be unworthy of life which challenges the very basis of civilised society.

It is widely acknowledged that euthanasia is out of control in Belgium: a 500% increase in cases in ten years; one third involuntary; half not reported; euthanasia for blindness, anorexia and botched sex change operations; organ transplant euthanasia; plans to extend euthanasia to children and people with dementia.

One commentator has said that Belgium has ‘leaped head-first off a moral cliff’.

Belgium’s law, which came into effect in 2002, permits euthanasia for those in a ‘medically hopeless’ situation due to a serious and incurable condition caused by injury or illness, with physical and/or psychological suffering which is constant and unbearable, and cannot be mitigated.

But it is clear that in practice the boundaries are continually migrating and the nation’s moral conscience is shifting year on year. Call it incremental extension, mission creep or slippery slope – whatever – it is strongly in evidence in Belgium.

With the Falconer and MacDonald bills currently before the House of Lords and Scottish Parliament respectively Britain needs to take sober warning from events across the English Channel. Note: Dr. Peter Saunders is a doctor and the CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, a British organization with 4,500 doctors and 1,000 medical students as members. This article originally appeared on his blog. He is also associated with the Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK.