Medical experts gave evidence to the Belgian Senate on Wednesday as the country’s upper house mulls giving children the right to die.
Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since May 2002, but under very strict conditions. Under the current law, adults who suffer from a serious and incurable condition can make a voluntary and written request to die if they are in a “hopeless medical situation.”
Professor Dominique Biarent, who heads the intensive care unit at the Queen Fabiola Children’s University Hospital, told euronews that the law should be changed.
“Some children need to have an answer to their demands because they are suffering so much. They are asking for this,” said Biarent.
The Brussels-based doctor said her fellow colleagues have faced this issue for years and need some legal clarity to take away the fear of possible criminal prosecution.
She said doctors always see euthanasia as the last resort.
“We have been raised so we will cure people first. Our aim is always to try and cure a patient. But of course, the second aim is to care for them. Caring is also giving them conditions to die in dignity,” she said.
But Professor Biarent rejected the idea that allowing minors with serious and incurable conditions to end their own lives would lead to so-called ‘euthanasia tourism’.
“It’s a long process. You cannot just buy a ticket and so OK I will go for euthanasia. That’s impossible and nobody will accept that,” she told euronews.
Philippe Mahoux, a surgeon by training, is the Socialist Party senator who helped draft the 2002 euthanasia law.
Belgium was the second EU country to legalise the practice after the Netherlands.
One exception to thelaw is that children aged 15 and over who are ‘legally emancipated’ from their parents may decide to undergo euthanasia.
Mahoux now proposes that all children of any age with a serious and incurable disease and a sound mind should have the same rights.
“When we debated the euthanasia law ten years ago. Many of us said that those children and adolescents who are living in difficult circumstances with regards to death and illness, (we said) that they displayed greater lucidity (on this issue) than most adults,” he said.
Pro-life groups opposed Mahoux’s legislation in 2002.
Belgium’s Catholic Church was a vocal opponent a decade ago and it is making its voice heard this time as well.
Tommy Scholtes, a spokesman for the Belgian Bishops’ Conference, said the organisation preferred “a palliative care approach.”
“We propose sedation as a means of helping people to cope with pain and suffering,” he said.
Hearings from expert witnesses at Belgium’s upper house of parliament will last several months.
Senators and Belgian MPs will then examine the proposed changes once those hearings are over.
The latest available government figures, which date from 2011, show that there were 1,133 euthanasia requests during the year.
Copyright © 2014 euronewsMore about:
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2Sweden becomes first EU country to recognise the Palestinian State | euronews, world news
- 3Italy swamped by flash floods | euronews, world news
- 4Back to School for Romania’s new First Lady | euronews, world news
- 5What will you ask US Senator John McCain? | euronews, world news
- 6Turkish president Erdogan unveils his new palace of a thousand rooms | euronews, world news
- 7India PM Modi appoints Yoga minister | euronews, world news
- 8Vladimir Putin most powerful man in the world – Forbes | euronews, world news
- 9[Live] Rosetta’s Philae lands on comet 67P and enters the history books | euronews, world news
- 10European e-revolution people rise up | euronews, world news
- 11International tv news | euronews: European and International tv news bulletin
- 12Where is the best place in Europe for women? | euronews, world news
- 13Obama’s ‘risky’ immigration gamble | euronews, world news
- 14Nadia Comaneci: gymnast of perfection and defector | euronews, the global conversation
- 15Putin plans to leave G20 talks early amid Ukraine pressure | euronews, world news
- 16Transcript of hanged Iranian woman’s final message released | euronews, world news
- 17Irony as organised crime prosecutor arrested for corruption in Romania | euronews, world news
- 18Syria: Islamic extremists pledge to press ahead with battle for Kobani | euronews, world news
- 19Edgars Rinkevics: “I am gay. Good luck all of you.” | euronews, world news
- 20Anti-immigration protests in Rome | euronews, world news