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What the Belgium Senate’s vote to legalize euthanizing children tells us

by | Feb 13, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. We first ran this story in December just after the Belgian Senate’s tragic vote to legalize euthanizing children of any age. The House of Representatives did likewise today. The arguments made in this piece were valid long before they were written two months ago, they remain so today, and always will be.

Jean-Jacques De Gucht of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats spoke in favour of the bill in the Senate.

Jean-Jacques De Gucht of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats spoke in favour of the bill in the Senate.

The evidence that Belgium has “leaped head-first off a moral cliff” represents something so utterly dangerous and symptomatic that it deserves further scrutiny beyond the many stories we’ve posted already.

Here are four considerations raised by Belgian Senate’s 50-17 vote which extends the “right” to be euthanized to children regardless of age. I could list 100.

#1. The euthanasia express is like a freight train racing down the tracks without brakes. “It is widely acknowledged that euthanasia is out of control in Belgium,” wrote Dr. Peter Saunders. There’s been “a 500% increase in cases in ten years; one third involuntary; half not reported; euthanasia for blindness, anorexia and botched sex change operations; organ transplant euthanasia; plans to extend euthanasia to children and people with dementia.” Writing before the Senate vote, Saunders observed, “[I]t is clear that in practice the boundaries are continually migrating and the nation’s moral conscience is shifting year on year. Call it incremental extension, mission creep or slippery slope – whatever – it is strongly in evidence in Belgium.”

#2. We are supposed to take consolation in assurances that supposedly “only” 10-15 children a year will be euthanized and that what is already taking place “secretly” will now be brought into the open and regulated. Forget that this is sheer poppycock. Forget that there is no blunter (or more stupid) argument used to demolish legal protections than the assurance that once death is bureaucratized, the numbers will go down. They always, always, always go up. And no matter how wide the net is cast, it is never cast widely enough for “reformers.”

In that vein note that one reason the killing will supposedly be minimal is (as Dr. Kenneth Chambarae, an ardent advocate, told CNN) that there are strict medical criteria before a child can be euthanized. “This is different from adults, who can also request it if they are suffering psychologically.” How long before that “limitation” is eliminated? After all, as Chambarae told CNN, the reason to extend the “right” to be euthanized to children in the first place is that “the law now discriminates them.”

#3. A story in the [Canadian] National Post swallows hook, line, and sinker the myth that euthanasia is already closely monitored in Belgium. “Since its 2002 adoption of legalized euthanasia, Belgium maintains it has rigorous safeguards to prevent frivolous or malicious use of euthanasia laws,” writes Tristin Hopper. “On the Belgian government’s official website an info page is headlined ‘Euthanasia: A strictly regulated right.’” Heck that alone is proof positive, right?

More than 8,000 euthanasia cases since 2002? A change of the first order to allow euthanasia for “psychological suffering” and for the mentally ill? The elevation of proponents to media icons? Most people might consider that less than “a strictly regulated right.”

4. When it comes to euthanasia the Netherlands and Belgium are joined at the syringe. And they are targeting Canada. Kevin Yuill, writing on today observes

“In a poll published today in the British Medical Journal, over half of respondents in the Netherlands (57 per cent) agreed that everyone should have a right to euthanasia, and a similar proportion (53 per cent) agreed that everyone has the right to determine their own life and death. One in four (26 per cent) agreed with the vignette in which a doctor helps an elderly person to die who is tired of living. One in five (21 per cent) agreed with the statement: ‘In my opinion, euthanasia should be allowed for persons who are tired of living without having a serious disease.’ Just over half disagreed (52 per cent), while one in four (25 per cent) neither agreed nor disagreed. Such a change in opinion has taken place after a Dutch citizens’ initiative called Uit Vrije Wil (Out of Free Will) attracted more than 117,000 letters of support in 2010 for its proposal to extend assisted dying to all persons over 70 who are ‘tired of life’.

“Voters in Quebec who will soon consider Bill 52, which would legalise euthanasia in the Canadian province, should keep in mind that this is where voluntary-death campaigns are headed, despite the much-vaunted ‘safeguards’. A society that thinks those who are terminally ill and depressed should be given the option to die will logically extend such ‘benefits’ to those who are over 70 or to others who are simply ‘tired of life’. [emphasis added]

It is assumed by everyone that Belgium’s measure will pass the House [as it did today] and become law when the King signs it (a formality). It is difficult to exaggerate how dreadful, how menacing, how threatening this will be to vulnerable populations all over the world.

Categories: Euthanasia