Euthanasia rights given to children under 18 in Belgium
BRUSSELS — Belgian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to extend the country's euthanasia law to children under 18.
The law empowers children with terminal ailments who are in great pain to ask to be put to death by their doctor if their parents agree and a psychiatrist or psychologist certifies they are conscious of what their choice signifies.
It has wide public support, but was opposed by some pediatricians and the country's Roman Catholic clergy. As House of Representative members cast their ballots and an electronic tally board lit up with enough green lights to indicate the measure would carry, a lone protester in the chamber shouted “assassins!”
Hans Bonte, a Socialist, said no member of the House hopes the law will ever be made use of. But he said all Belgians, including minors, deserved the right to “bid farewell to life in humane circumstances” without having to fear they were breaking the law.
The 86-44 vote in the House, with 12 abstentions, followed approval by the Senate in December.
Laurent Louis, an independent House member who opposed the legislation, said the majority of his colleagues were violating the natural order.
“A child is to be nurtured and protected, all the way to the end, whatever happens,” Louis said. “You don't kill it.”
Another House member, Catherine Fonck, said the legislation was riddled with flaws and didn't address the possibility that one parent may favor euthanasia while the other is opposed.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.