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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/18/2014 (1 month ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Euthanasia may be requested by terminally ill children, who are in great pain and also have parental consent

The Belgium Parliament has passed a bill allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit. After the bill is signed by the king, Belgium will become the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.

Some pediatricians have warned vulnerable children could be put at risk. Some have also questioned whether a child can really be expected to make such a difficult choice.

Some pediatricians have warned vulnerable children could be put at risk. Some have also questioned whether a child can really be expected to make such a difficult choice.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/18/2014 (1 month ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Belgium, euthanasia, children, terminally ill


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Passed by 86 votes to 44, with 12 abstentions, euthanasia may be requested by terminally ill children who are in great pain and also have parental consent.

One man in the public gallery of Belgium's parliament shouted "murderers" in French when the vote was passed. Opponents of the law have argued that children cannot make such a difficult decision. The decision comes 12 years since Belgium legalized euthanasia for adults.

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To Belgium's north, the Netherlands, euthanasia is legal for children over the age of 12, if there is parental consent.

Under the Dutch conditions, a patient's request for euthanasia can be fulfilled by a doctor if the request is "voluntary and well-considered" and the patient is suffering unbearably, without prospect of improvement.

The BBC's Duncan Crawford, reporting from Brussels say that supporters of the legislation argue that in practice the law will affect an extremely small number of children, in their teenage years.

The law states a child would have to be terminally ill, face "unbearable physical suffering" and make repeated requests to die - before euthanasia is considered.

In addition, parents, doctors and psychiatrists would have to agree before a decision is made.

Religious leaders in Belgium argue that the law is immoral. "The law says adolescents cannot make important decisions on economic or emotional issues, but suddenly they've become able to decide that someone should make them die," Brussels Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, head of the Catholic Church in Belgium, says.

Some pediatricians have warned vulnerable children could be put at risk. Some have also questioned whether a child can really be expected to make such a difficult choice.

Last week 160 Belgian pediatricians signed an open letter against the law, claiming that there was no urgent need for it and that modern medicine is capable of alleviating pain.

Opinion polls conducted nationwide here have suggested broad support for the changes. Belgium is largely a Catholic nation.

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