Letter for Europe, February 2014
Making a strong sign against euthanasia of children in Belgium!
On the 13th of February 2014, a frightening law that extends euthanasia to children was passed by the Belgian Parliament: Doctors are now permitted to kill children “under the age of 18” who are terminally ill and suffer from severe pain without any prospect of relief. In this new law, the decision to kill a child must be approved by the parents and the physicians in care. It is further necessary that the young patient is aware of the situation and understands what euthanasia means. One can only imagine what this means to a young child who sees their parents in despair over his or her suffering.
This law is unique and it serves as a signal to other leaders throughout Europe that it is permissible to introduce such laws in their countries. There are also frightening reports of lax or unregulated use of euthanasia not only in Holland, but to an increasing extent also in Belgium. Belgian pediatricians said that the law is not medically necessary as “palliative care teams for children are perfectly capable of achieving pain relief, both in hospital and at home”. Many members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe signed a declaration saying that this law “betrays some of the most vulnerable children in Belgium" and "promotes the unacceptable belief that a life can be unworthy of life which challenges the very basis of civilised society".
After the Belgian Parliament adopted the law, it is now up to King Philippe of the Belgians to sign it. In theory, he can refuse his signature. This is, however, very uncommon and could stir up heated debates. But, this puts King Philippe in a position to make the strongest possible case for the dignity of every human person. His uncle, King Baudouin, had heroically not consented to a liberalisation of abortion in 1990.
A petition to the king asking him to refuse his consent was initiated a few days ago and has already gathered more than 130.000 supporters. The petition can be signed here: citizengo.org/en/4158-not-sign-legalisation-child-euthanasia
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