NRL News

Belgian Chambers of Representatives overwhelmingly approves child euthanasia

by | Feb 13, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

BelgiumprotestWhen the Belgian Senate voted 50-17 in December to remove all age limits on euthanasia, the die was cast. Approval in the Chamber of Representatives—which occurred today by a vote of 88 to 44 with 12 abstentions—was a foregone conclusion as is the signature of King Philippe, Belgium’s constitutional head of state, a mere formality.

But to their great credit, opponents never gave up. An Open letter was signed by 160 pediatricians denounced the bill. The church spoke out against the legislation. There were many peaceful demonstrations.

The familiar battering rams prevailed. It is discriminatory to deny children the “right” to be euthanasized; “only” a handful of children would be “affected”; and besides it’s already happening, so let’s legalize the killing. (As Wesley Smith says of the latter, “This is typical euthanasia metastasizing: Doctors break the guidelines and then the answer is to expand the guidelines rather than punish the doctors.”)

But, even if you are reluctant to buy into what might be called the quantity argument, there are the obligatory “safeguards.” As the Washington Post described it.

“The child must have a terminal and incurable illness, with death expected to occur ‘within a brief period.’ The child must also be experiencing ‘constant and unbearable physical suffering.’ Like for adults desiring euthanasia, that diagnosis and prognosis must be agreed upon by the treating physician and an outsider brought in to give a second opinion.

“The child is to be interviewed by a pediatric psychiatrist or psychologist, who must determine that the child possesses ‘the capacity of discernment’ and certify that in writing.”

But who is kidding whom? If you look at the history of euthanasia just in Belgium and its neighbor to the North, the Netherlands, whatever limitations there are initially can be compared to flashing yellow lights. First proponents slow down as they approach them and then they insist on a green light to eliminate all “restrictions.”

“Terminal” is replaced by psychological uneasy and how long before we’re told this nonsense about children signing their own death warrants is slowly down the process?

You can read Alex Schadenberg’s fine analysis at “Belgium extends euthanasia to children without first dealing with the abuse of the euthanasia law.”  He reminds us that unrequested euthanasia is already rampant and that the 160 pediatricians had debunked the canard that children in Belgium are suffering: “The palliative care teams for children are perfectly capable of achieving pain relief, both in hospital and at home.”

Let me close with an astute observation from Dr. Peter Saunders written a little over a year ago:

“I have never been convinced by the term ‘slippery slope’ which implies passive change over time. What we are seeing in Belgium is more accurately termed ‘incremental extension’, the steady intentional escalation of numbers with a gradual widening of the categories of patients to be included.

“I recently described the similar steep increase of cases of assisted suicide in Oregon (450% since 1998) and Switzerland (700% over the same period). In the Netherlands since 2006 the number of official cases of (lethal injection) euthanasia has doubled since 2006, although many other people (possibly up to 12.3% of all deaths) are having their lives actively ended through the process of ‘continuous deep sedation’ whereby doctors deeply sedate patients and then withhold fluids with the explicit intention that they will die.

“The lessons are clear. Once you relax the law on euthanasia or assisted suicide steady extension will follow as night follows day.”

Categories: Euthanasia