Thursday, 13 February 2014

Belgium: debate to resume today on Child Euthanasia

Yesterday (Wednesday) the debate on the controversial euthanasia for minors and people with dementia legislation began in plenary session. The debate is expected to be finalized today (Thursday).

Belgium Parliament
Wednesday's engagement deteriorated into party politicking according to La Libre following the Christian Democrats push to have the debate delayed to make way for further hearings on what is being claimed to be an unnecessary rush to push the bill through. CDH spokesman, Christian Brotcome claimed that there is no 'hue and cry' of necessity from the medical profession.

However Reformist Movement (MR) spokesman, Daniel Bacquelaine told La Libre that 'The right approach to life and death can not be restricted to adults.' This is a far cry from the intent and action of the 2002 Belgian legislation and is evidence of the inevitable incremental extension of euthanasia.

The push for delay comes on the back of significant protests by more than 160 Belgian Paediatricians, well known lawyers, churches and individual Belgians. The group of paediatricians' question the need for the law change at all claiming that there is no need and no push from the medical community in that direction.

Dossards Jaunes protest in Belgium
They further claim that Belgian palliative care system is widespread and accessible and means that no child should not have access to the highest quality of pain management. They also raise serious doubts about the capacity for a child to make a fully informed rational decision for euthanasia adding that any judgement on capacity would be entirely subjective.

An eleventh hour intervention by the International Children's Palliative Care Network from their Mumbai Conference supports these claims adding that euthanasia is not part of palliative care:
We believe that euthanasia is not part of children’s palliative care and is not an alternative to palliative care. It is imperative that we work together to improve access to children’s palliative care around the world, including ensuring access to appropriate pain and symptom control.
The conference has called on the Belgian Parliament to reconsider the move.

Should the bill pass through the Chamber of Representatives it will be sent to the King of Belgium for Royal assent. As is the protocol, King Philippe has not expressed any opinion on the legislation. (see: 4 year old Canadian girl asks the King of Belgium to stop child euthanasia)

Further reading: 

Insane Conversations – talking to children about euthanasia

Protest in Belgium targets child euthanasia and the ‘toothless’ government euthanasia commission



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