Belgian Proposal Calls for Teens’ Right to Medically Assisted Suicide

Proposals from Belgian government officials would give teenagers the right to assisted suicide and parents of terminally ill children the right to have their children euthanized. The plans by members of Belgium’s coalition government call for the extension of rules allowing physicians to perform euthanasia on terminally ill people suffering “constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain.”

Since 2002, the law allows patients — other than newborn babies — to be over 18 years of age to qualify for assisted suicide. Bart Tommelein, leader of Belgium Liberals, wants to change the law by extending euthanasia to children and elderly persons who are unable to choose for themselves.

Belgium’s legal standards allow euthanasia on infants. Of those Belgian babies who die before their first birthday, more than half are killed by deliberate medical intervention. In 16 per cent of the cases, parental consent was not considered.

Teenagers should be given the right to medically assisted suicide and the parents of terminally ill younger children should be able to choose euthanasia under proposals from members of Belgium’s coalition government.

The plans to extend rules allowing doctors to perform euthanasia on terminally ill people suffering “constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain” comes amid heated Belgian debate on the issue.

Under existing Belgian laws, in place since 2002, patients, other than newborn babies, must be over 18 to qualify for assisted suicide, a situation that Bart Tommelein, leader of Belgium Liberals, wants changed.

Mr Tommelein, whose party is a key member of Belgium’s coalition government, has pledged to bring forward new legislative proposals extending euthanasia to children and old people suffering from such severe dementia that they are unable to choose for themselves.

“We will seek, as Liberals, parliamentary majorities,” Mr Tommelein said.

The ethical debate will mean another headache for Belgium’s new Prime Minister Yves Leterme and his fragile government, which took power last week after a nine-month political crisis.

Cardinal Danneels, Belgium’s Catholic Cardinal, used his Easter sermon to start a polarised national debate on euthanasia.

“Avoiding suffering is no act of bravery,” he said. “Our society seems unable to cope with death and suffering.”

The Cardinal has reacted to Belgian media “glorification” of the “brave” euthanasia least week of Hugo Claus, a Flemish writer suffering from Alzheimers disease.

There are more than 39 cases of euthanasia declared by doctors in Belgium every month, but the true figure is thought to be double that.

Euthanasia is currently permitted on infants and more than half of the Belgian babies who die before they are 12 months old have been killed by deliberate medical intervention.

In 16 per cent of cases parental consent was not considered.

Via The Telegraph

 

 

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