Belgium moves towards legalising euthanasia for terminally ill children
Belgium came a step closer on Wednesday to introducing the right to grant euthanasia for terminally ill children, breaking what is an almost universal taboo, when a parliamentary committee voted it through by a large majority.
The law, which still has to go to a vote of the full parliament that analysts say is likely to pass, would make Belgium the first country in the world to remove the age limit for the procedure.
Safeguards would, however, exist, insisting that parents approve their child’s decision to die.
“This is an important step, not just for the minors themselves, but also for the doctors which are confronted with such situations,” said senator Jean-Jacques De Gucht from the Flemish liberals, one of the backers of the law.
The Netherlands, a neighbouring country, already allows euthanasia for children as young as 12 years, although only five cases have been recorded since 2002. Belgium would go further by removing any reference in its law to the age of the child.
The Belgian law instead requires that a psychologist evaluate the child’s ability to choose to die.