Belgium's Parliament Debates Euthanasia for Children

Dignitatis Humanae Institute says proposed legislation is «sickening and deplorable».

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Belgium is on a «relentless march towards a culture of death» as legislators seek to extend euthanasia to children, the head of a Rome-based institute for life has said.

A debate in Belgium’s parliament on a government bill to extend the use of euthanasia to children demonstrates “the mission creep that is inevitably pursued once euthanasia is legalised,” said Luca Volontè, chairman of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute.

In a Nov. 4 statement, he described the bill as part of a “relentless march towards a culture of death, with less and less justification being needed as ending the lives of the vulnerable becomes ever more socially acceptable.”

The Institute pointed out that were the bill to pass, it would be the first legal extension of euthanasia to minors anywhere in the world. It also added that the ruling Belgium Socialist party, who devised the bill, are also seeking to extend euthanasia to patients in the very early stages of dementia. 

Last year saw a record 1,432 cases of euthanasia in Belgium, compared to 235 when euthanasia was first legalised in the country in 2002. Records say that a 25% increase in euthanasia was registered in the country in 2012, with the country’s doctors justifying the killing of patients on grounds of suffering blindness, anorexia or depression. 

<p>“Now the target is children – children who are not deemed legally responsible to smoke, buy alcohol or get married yet will supposedly be able to rationally decide whether their young lives are worth living,” said Mr. Volontè. “That a government would actually deem this feasible and acceptable is both sickening and deplorable.”  

Opponents may take the cause to the European Court of Human Rights should the bill pass. The DHI says this is “a likely scenario” as three-quarters of Belgians support a parent’s right to choose euthanasia for the patient, even without the child’s own consent.

“The accepted mantra of doctors was once ‘do no harm’,” said Mr. Volontè. “Yet the experience of Belgium is a callous rejection of this ethos, with the preferred prescription for the most vulnerable gradually becoming killing over care.”

“Once a society accepts the principle of death as an acceptable course of treatment, it is only a matter of time before any restrictions placed upon that principle are diminished and removed,” he said. “Euthanizing children is the latest, tragic development of this flawed, nihilistic logic.”

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