A much debated measure that would to extend euthanasia to children is set to go up to a vote on February 13th in Brussels.
If passed, the bill would authorize the killing of minors, with no age limit, if they request it and are suffering from a debilitating or terminally ill condition.
Belgian lawmakers approved the bill in the Senate and the lower justice committee, paving the way for the upcoming vote. The vote has been backed by Belgian Socialists and other political groups, but opposed by parties such as the Flemish Vlaams Belang party and the Christian Democrats.
Religious groups in the country have expressed outrage over the bill, saying that the measure would “trivialize the act of killing.” Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Malines-Brussels called on all the faithful of the archdiocese Feb. 7 to spend a day in fasting and prayer to “awaken consciences and have a last public debate.”
“To put an end to life is an act that not only kills, but that little by little destroys the bonds that exist in our society, in our families, victims of a growing individualism,” representatives of Belgium’s religions stated.
58 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe also published a statement against the draft law on euthanasia for children in Belgium, saying that bill’s passage in the Belgian Senate “assumes erroneously that children are capable of giving their informed consent to euthanasia.”
The vote, they continued, defends “the unacceptable belief that a life can be unworthy of being lived.”
Although lawmakers believe that such cases would only total from 10-15 a year, Belgium set a record of 1,432 cases of euthanasia in 2012.