By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
The Belgian media is reporting that the bill to extend euthanasia to children in Belgium will likely be voted on Thursday February 13.
The Belgian government announced today that the debate on the child euthanasia bill, in the Chamber of Deputies, will occur on February 12 and the vote will likely happen the next day, but possibly on the same day of the debate.
Why is the Belgium government fast tracking the child euthanasia bill?
Similar to the Groningen Protocol in the Netherlands, the extension of euthanasia to children in Belgian is based on allowing euthanasia for children with disabilities.
The bill is being fast tracked likely because a strong opposition to the bill is developing.
Last week 38 Belgian paediatricians denounced the child euthanasia bill. The paediatricians stated that extending euthanasia to children was not necessary because:
(1) Even the most complex medical cases can be solved in the current legal framework, with the means and expertise at our disposal. For whom is this legislation therefore designed?(2) Children in Belgium are not suffering. The palliative care teams for children are perfectly capable of achieving pain relief, both in hospital and at home.(3) A sensitive child may perceive the option of euthanasia as a solution or a duty, especially if the child feels that the parents can no longer bear to see him suffer.(4) In practice, there is no objective method for determining whether a child is gifted with the ability of discernment and judgment. So this is actually largely subjective and subject to other influences.
They paediatricians concluded:
We believe that there is no urgency to pass this bill in the current legislature.
Last week, a large number of the European Parliament members signed a Declaration opposing the euthanasia for children in Belgium.
The Declaration 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 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.
A few weeks ago, a large protest was held in Brussels opposing the extension of euthanasia to children.
Last month, a Belgian euthanasia doctor admitted to not reporting euthanasia.
Last November I debated, a long time Belgian euthanasia promoter in Brussels. I spoke about instances of abuse of the Belgian euthanasia law and I quoted several Belgian studies proving that in Belgium:
(1) euthanasia is widely under-reported;(2)euthanasia is often done without an explicit request;(3) and nurses are lethally injecting patients, even though the law does not permit it.
The euthanasia promoter reacted to the facts by admitting that there are problems with the Belgian euthanasia law. This is cold comfort to those who are dead.
Opposition to the Belgian child euthanasia bill is building. The government may be fast-tracking the bill to stop the euthanasia debate that has led to information about how the euthanasia law is out-of control becoming known by the public.
The Belgian government needs to come clean with the facts concerning the current practice of euthanasia and it needs to reject the extension of lethal injections to children.