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MARCH 2014

Euthanasia for Belgian Children

Parliament in Belgium has passed a bill allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit, by 86 votes to 44, with 12 abstentions.  When, as expected, the bill is signed by the king, Belgium will become the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.

It may be requested by terminally ill children who are in great pain and also have parental consent. Opponents argue children cannot make such a difficult decision.9

Meanwhile, in a key demonstration of cross-continent opposition, parliamentarians from across Europe have now laid down a motion at the Council of Europe, also denouncing the Belgian Bill. Written declaration no. 567, is entitled ‘Legalisation of euthanasia for children in Belgium’ and states that extending euthanasia to children:

1. Betrays some of the most vulnerable children in Belgium by accepting that their lives may no longer have any inherent value or worth and that they should die.

2. Mistakenly assumes that children are able to give appropriate informed consent to euthanasia and that they can understand the grave meaning and complex consequences associated with such a decision.

3. Promotes the unacceptable belief that a life can be unworthy of life which challenges the very basis of civilised society.

36 British MPs and Peers are members of the parliamentary assembly and seven have already signed the declaration. 10

If we wrote off sick children, I probably wouldn’t be here

Speaking before the vote a freelance journalist who has cerebral palsy said he may never have been alive if the Belgian law existed in Britain.11  Alex Taylor’s parents were told by a doctor that he would “never think, let alone speak, read or write”, but they did not give up fighting for him. Writing in The Times he said: “As it turned out, I studied history and politics at Warwick University, and have been known to have a sense of humour. “I do not blame the doctor — people with a cerebral haemorrhage like mine are not supposed to buck the system.” However, he continued: “I have wondered what might have crossed my parents’ minds had euthanasia been an option.” 12

9 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26181615

10 http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/end-of-life/belgium-extends-euthanasia-to-children-of-all-ages

11 http://www.christian.org.uk/news/child-euthanasia-voted-in-by-belgian-parliament/  

12 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article4004027.ece

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