August 20, 2022

First child euthanised in Belgium

This is the first case since the country’s euthanasia law was amended in 2014

A terminally ill youngster been euthanised in Belgium – the first since Parliament lifted all age restrictions in 2014. The head of the Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia, Dr Wim Distelmans, confirmed that the case had been reported by a local doctor last week.

While details were not disclosed, even the age, he described it as an exceptional case of a child with a terminal illness living in the Flemish-speaking section of Belgium. “Fortunately there are very few children who are considered (for euthanasia) but that does not mean we should refuse them the right to a dignified death,” he told the Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad today.

Belgium is the only country that allows all minors of any age to opt for euthanasia. They need only prove that they have a rational decision-making capacity and be in the final stages of a terminal illness.

After a heated debate Belgium amended its euthanasia law in 2014 to include children of any age “in a hopeless medical situation of constant and unbearable suffering that cannot be eased and which will cause death in the short term.” The parents must give their approval, as well. Neighbouring Netherlands allows euthanasia for people as young as 12.

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