Thursday, February 13, 2014

Belgium Passes Law Permitting Voluntary Euthanasia for Children

Belgium has become the first country to permit euthanasia for children. Amendments to the country's 2002 euthanasia statute will now permit competent terminally-ill children in a "medically hopeless condition of constant and unbearable physical suffering" to request euthanasia. For the request to be honored, a medical professional must deem the child mature enough to understand the meaning of the request. The child's parents or guardians must also approve. A Google-translation of the text of the amendment is here.

In January, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted to condemn the Belgian Senate's approval of the measure. The measure also attracted the opposition of a substantial number of Belgian pediatricians, 170 of whom signed a petition urging delay of passage of the law. But the Chamber of Representatives has now approved the measure (86 to 44 with 12 abstaining), and King Philippe is expected to sign it.

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