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Belgium set to give minors the right to die

brussels bureau

Belgium set to give minors the right to die


Belgium is set to give terminally-ill children the right to die.

The country is one of only a handful where euthanasia is legal.

Now MPs are voting on changing the law to abolish all age restrictions on the practice.

The Netherlands already allows minors as young as 12 years old to end their own lives.

Opponents reckon the Belgian proposals, which were approved by the Senate in December, go too far and grant too much power to doctors.

“Only one country in the world has legalised euthanasia for children, and that’s Holland. They’ve had five of six cases in 10 years, I think,” said Drieu Godefridi with the protest group ‘Dossards jaunes’.

“So it doesn’t respond to any practical need. It’s a purely idealogical move,” he added.

Another demonstrator said: “There are other means that allow severely-ill children to die peacefully without the use of a lethal procedure, which seems to me in our society totally barbaric.”

Doctors who support the changes to the 2002 law said they wanted more legal clarity over what steps they are allowed to take.

Michel Deneyer, a leading pediatrician at UZB Children’s Hospital in Brussels, told euronews: “ When palliative care is not regulated, we can keep increasing the dosage of medication. At certain point, we can ‘kill’ a patient because we use a lethal dose. But that is not regulated.”

Marijke Bachely’s son, Benjamin, developed liver cancer whe he was five years old. He died two and half years later in 2004.

Marijke says Benjamin should have had the right to die.

“One of the fears that comes to mind when talking about euthanasia for adults is rather the intentions there might be behind it: matters regarding one’s inheritance or estate,” she told euronews in an interview.

“You don’t have that with children. When talking about a child, the only thing we can ask is that the pain stops.”

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