Belgian Lawmakers Considering Allowing Child Euthanasia

Credit: Felix42 contra la censura / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SACredit: Felix42 contra la censura / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SABelgian lawmakers are considering a bill that, if made law, would allow children under 18 to end their own lives.

According to kirotv the bill, which has popular support, would require the parents of the child who wants to end their life to consent and for an expert to deem the child capable of understanding their decision before being helped to die.

The Washington Post explains some of the arguments put forward by advocates of the bill and the current status of adult euthanasia in Belgium:

Advocates argue that euthanasia for children, with the consent of their parents, is necessary to give families an option in a desperately painful situation. But opponents have questioned whether children can reasonably decide to end their own lives.

Belgium is already a euthanasia pioneer; it legalized the practice for adults in 2002. In the last decade, the number of reported cases per year has risen from 235 deaths in 2003 to 1,432 in 2012, the last year for which statistics are available. Doctors typically give patients a powerful sedative before injecting another drug to stop their heart.

Carine Boucher of the European Center for Bio-ethics, believes that children lack the maturity to request euthanasia.

From UPI:

Two thirds of Belgians reportedly favor the euthanasia expansion. Euthanasia deaths in Belgium rose to 1,432 in 2012 compared to 235 in 2003.

But critics think the proposal goes too far.

"The child does not have the maturity to get married or to buy alcohol or to buy cigarettes if he is 14. Now we are saying that because he is suffering, he might have the possibility to ask for euthanasia," said Carine Boucher of the European Center for Bio-ethics in Brussels. "Who will give the suggestion to the child that one of the solutions is euthanasia? A child doesn't know what euthanasia is. A child doesn't know what death is."

The Post’s reporting on the proposed bill comes after a transsexual was helped to die in Belgium last month after failed sex-change operations.

Children are a difficult subject for libertarians, who put a lot of value in an individual’s ability to know what is best for them and in their ability to make choices about what to do with their body. In many jurisdictions some people under the age of 18 are deemed mature enough to drive, sign up for organ donation, join the military (with parental consent), and have sex, but are not deemed mature enough to vote or smoke.

Below is a discussion between Prof. David Friedman and Stefan Molyneux on libertarian parenting:

So, readers, what should those under 18 be prohibited from doing, and how should this be decided? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Carine Boucher of the European Center for Bio-ethics, believes that children lack the maturity to request euthanasia.

    And I believe that people who call themselves [anything]-ethicists are controlling scumbags who inevitably want to make you believe that they are the only ones who understand the "ethics" of a situation.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Is there no bottom to the slippery slope?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Of course, the only moral thing to do is that children with desperately painful terminal illnesses and their parents must be made to suffer to the bitter end so that your pearl clutching over slippery slopes can be allayed.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Did you miss the part in the article in which an adult sexually-confused person decided to kill himself with the approval of the relevant authorities?

    Applying this to minors, this means that parents could be signing off on killing their children because of their suicidal impulses related to their sexuality. Or to put this in real-world terms, more suicides of gay teenagers.

    If the slippery slope is such a fallacious argument, how come we keep sliding down it? If I'd told a supporter of *adult* euthanasia that his principles led to teenage suicide, he would have ridiculed me as a teabagging right-wing liar. But now Belgium is approaching that part of the slippery slope.

  • Jordan||

    If I'd told a supporter of *adult* euthanasia that his principles led to teenage suicide, he would have ridiculed me as a teabagging right-wing liar.

    I wouldn't have. I'm perfectly comfortable with the principle of self-ownership.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Not all euthanasia supporters are as honest as you. They can't be, because if they disgorged their full agenda all at once in sight of the public, they'd lose.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Are you being honest Eduard? You would not support a fully grown adult's right to contract with a doctor for assisted suicide, right? So it seems it is not the slippery slope you are worried about, other than using it as blunt rhetorical instrument against all forms of assisted suicide.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Damned right I'm using the Belgian movement for child suicide as a slippery-slope argument against adult "euthanasia." In fact, I avowed it. You're projecting your dishonest onto me.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    The dishonesty is your initial pretending it is a concern for 'vulnerable populations' being pushed into these choices, when you really oppose anyone making such a choice. Their lives belong to you.

    It is also nice of you to admit you are 'using' this matter of families suffering for your larger paternalistic goals.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You put the term 'vulnerable populations' in quotes, suggesting that I used the phrase in the course of this discussion.

    I did not.

    Therefore you are a liar.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    They were not "", they were '', suggesting I think you are using these group's 'vulnerability' as a cheap rhetorical device in your quest to restrict choice.

  • Jordan||

    Of course, characterizing it as "leading to teenage suicide" is dishonest.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    How is it dishonest when it is about to do precisely that in Belgium?

  • Jordan||

    You would have to prove that teenagers who otherwise would not have committed suicide will do so under this law.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I don't have to prove any such thing. All I need to prove is that under the old law, adult enablers of a teen's suicide, or the adults who administer the coup de grace, would be punished, whereas under the proposed new regime, the guilty adults would get off scot-free.

  • Jordan||

    That would not be the same thing as "leading to teenage suicide."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Well, let's consider the matter from a realistic point of view. The proposed law would make it legitimate for a child's parents and a government expert to sign off on the child's death. Are you saying that a child, faced with this sort of consensus that he ought to die, would feel no pressure whatsoever? What bollocks. Of *course* it will encourage teen suicides which otherwise would not happen. If this law didn't facilitate suicides which otherwise wouldn't occur, then the law wouldn't be getting promoted in the first place.

  • Jordan||

    If this law didn't facilitate suicides which otherwise wouldn't occur, then the law wouldn't be getting promoted in the first place.

    That is, of course, false. Perhaps we recognize that since suicide is going to occur, it's better that one go painlessly, surrounded by loved ones, instead of hanging in a closet or slashing your wrists in the bathtub.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I would imagine that being "surrounded by loved ones" who *want you do die* would provide a certain degree of pressure to a vulnerable child, as opposed to be surrounded by loved ones who (even if only from a fear of legal punishment) are trying to stop you from killing yourself.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Who is better able to judge, and can be counted on to divine the compassionate response to, what should be done with a child who is terminally ill or suffering? You, or the child's parents?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    This is why euthanasia advocates can't be trusted. They start by saying they support the right of adults to kill themselves, denying that they're facilitating teenage suicide, but then once they can get away with it they decide they can't even wait for the would-be suicide to reach the age of 18 before deciding to kill himself. No, they would even attack any fellow-euthanasists who naively insisted on having people wait until their 18th birthday.

    The Belgian case shows Americans never, never, to stop onto that slippery slope. Thank you for making my point for me.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    This is why euthanasia opponents can't be trusted. They start by saying that even 18 year old, clear minded adults should not be able to end their lives on their terms, and then go on to try to use any extension of that principle to attack that initial right. Thank you for making my case for me.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Yeah, if the logical extension of the right to euthanasia is the right of kids to kill themselves, then you've spared me a lot of labor and made my case in the eyes of sensible people.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Count me as one of those people for whom this would not be OK. There are already a fair number of problems involving adults and the level of coercion or pressure which others could bring to bear on them in bringing about a suicide or "voluntary" euthanasia, and in the case of children those concerns blow up exponentially. The bill suggests that "experts" will be on hand to ensure against the possibility of coercion, but there are no circumstances where I can trust the judgement of an adult who would assert a child should die -- even if the reason is ostensibly in the child's best interests.

    This should be highly concerning to anyone who perceives a distinction between an adult and a child.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -but there are no circumstances where I can trust the judgement of an adult who would assert a child should die

    Even a child who is suffering under an incredibly painful, terminal illness? I can easily imagine a parent who has seen their child suffer enough and is willing to let them escape that suffering. You can not even imagine this? And having imagined it you would take this from them because, what, you would choose differently? Or because you worry that some other parent's may use this choice badly? Are not these the cornerstone arguments Progressives use against people exercising their choices in other areas?

  • -Umbriel-||

    Are they modifying their statutory rape laws as well?

  • Ted S.||

    If they can make an informed decision to end their own lives, they can choose to smoke and drink as well.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    And fuck.

  • ||

    Pretty sure the age of consent there is quite low. And no one there cares if teenagers drink some alcohol. They probably don't care very much about smoking either.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

  • ||

    Exactly.

  • BardMetal||

    Can't wait to see voter ballots written in crayon.

  • Paul.||

    Belgian Lawmakers Considering Allowing Child Euthanasia

    Isn't that just called abortion?

    *ducks*

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Of course, there will be the usual song and dance from the euthanasia crowd in the US - "of course we don't support child euthanasia, you teabagging haters!" Then after they've made more "progress" in their cause they will "initiate a conversation" about it, then try to legalize it.

    And did you notice that the guy with sexual confusion got euthanized with the support of the enlightened classes? Amazing - the people preaching *against* sexual orientation discrimination and accusing their opponents of being killers, have colluded in the killing of a person who sought death because of his sexual orientation.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -a person who sought death because of his sexual orientation.

    Whose life is to give, his or yours?

  • trshmnstr||

    So we should assist suicidal people in offing themselves? You do realize that suicidal tendencies is usually temporary and quite treatable, right?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -So we should assist suicidal people in offing themselves?

    It should be up to the people involved, not the government. I mean, would you like to apply some similar paternalism to other issues?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Take for example decisions such as the following:

    -selling organs
    -engaging in prostitution or pornographic entertainment
    -working in dangerous workplace
    -asking to have lifegiving treatment's removed

    One could argue that in all three cases the people who would make such a decision are often in 'a tight spot,' or 'not thinking clearly' or that it would 'likely pass as other options came to light.' Should we not allow someone to take them up on such offers, and not allow them to make them?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    So now *you're* invoking the slippery slope? Unless we allow euthanasia, we have to ban pornography?

    Well, now that you've admitted that slippery slopes are real, not just "pearl clutching" (as we've seen above), the next direction is the direction of the slope. Does the slippery slope go from banning euthanasia to banning porn? If that were the case, why is US law (in comparison to the past and to other countries) so lenient toward porn since the 1960s?

    The slope, in my view, extends in the other direction - from killing despairing or troubled adults to killing despairing or troubled teens.

  • Jordan||

    Unless we allow euthanasia, we have to ban pornography?

    That's not what he said. He's pointing out the logical consequences of applying such paternalism to other cases.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    He said I was invoking principles which logically led to a porn ban.

    Because someone who watches porn has made an irreversible, unchangeable decision and will never have the opportunity to correct it. To think of just one important difference from trying to get euthanized.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    A person who sells their organs has made an irreversible, unchangeable decision and will never have the opportunity to correct it. Should we not respect their right to voluntarily do so?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Who are you, who are so wise in the ways of science and full of knowledge of what organ-regenerating methods science will or will not discover in the future? May I borrow your crystal ball when I go shopping for lottery tickets?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Are you really trying to weasel out of the hypothetical by conjuring up replacement organs?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I'm not a pure libertarian, so it's easy for me to say that yes -- any of those circumstances is a situation one might wish to examine in a less ideological light.

    When a child is doing any of those things -- you're damn right we should have laws in place guarding that child's well-being!

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -I'm not a pure libertarian

    That is becoming increasingly apparent.

  • trshmnstr||

    After some thought, I came to two conclusions. 1) If you're seriously contemplating suicide, then you should be the one to off yourself. You have the entire control of the situation and you can stop on the ledge rather than jump.
    2) I have no issue with doctors providing less painful means of dispatching yourself. I just don't think there's any reason they need to be pushing the button that ends it all. If the doctor wants to set everything up and then just hand you the button, that's fine, but you should have unequivocal ability to stop up to the instant you push the button.

    It's not paternalism to require the person who receives the serious ramifications to be their own failsafe. I think that's a reasonable regulation.

    Now we can spend 100 posts debating the exception to the exception to the exception that is a person who legitimately wants to commit suicide, with no chance of changing their mind, and doesn't have the capacity to push the button that ends their life.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    - If the doctor wants to set everything up and then just hand you the button, that's fine, but you should have unequivocal ability to stop up to the instant you push the button.

    This is how Washington and Oregon's physician assisted suicide law works now.

  • Marshall Gill||

    So we should assist suicidal people in offing themselves? You do realize that suicidal tendencies is usually temporary and quite treatable, right?

    Dude, you are arguing with a sock. It doesn't matter what position you take or how convincing your arguments, socks do not have the ability to argue in good faith or honestly. Even if your arguments were written in stone, it would simply move the goalposts. Just realize that we can't have done to him what he would do to others and move along.

  • Jordan||

    What are you talking about? He's been perfectly reasonable here.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    That's what's so chilling - that educated people can reasonably explain why it's OK to kill children.

    http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/ar.....d=10005200

  • Jordan||

    Yes, it would be so much more humane to force them to wallow in excruciating torment.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Let's not pretend that this is about being For The Children (TM), a mantra which H&R denizens mock in other contexts. That mantra deserves special mockery here. This is about the convenience of parents who want to get of unwanted children.

  • Jordan||

    You're the one arguing in favor of paternalism. That puts you squarely in the "For The Children" camp.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Why did euthanizing children never occur to Lysander Spooner, Rose Wilder Lane, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek? Perhaps there were not fully developed in their libertarianism, waiting to be enlightened by the Belgian *Socialist* Party (yes, you heard that right) that true libertarianism means letting kids off themselves.

    If that's libertarianism, let me off the bus.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    You are being disingenuous, as you have told me before you do not consider yourself to be a libertarian. You got off that bus many stops back.
    Spooner, Mises and Hayek are not like Deutoronomical priests whose words must be worshiped and followed as authority, they laid down principles we can apply to situations they did not discuss for whatever reason. Self-ownership is one. And the idea that parents much more often than not know what is best for their children is another.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I didn't say they were priests, but your position requires that you denounce them as lacking compassion.

    And this very discussion is one reason I'm not libertarian.

    PS - fuck you.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Ah, what Godly language Eduard.

    -And this very discussion is one reason I'm not libertarian.

    So you were dissembling. Noted.

    -your position requires that you denounce them as lacking compassion.

    Did they even have positions on this issue?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You squirm and evade when I point out that, by your own logic, your professed libertarian heroes are lacking in compassion.

    Why is it that you constantly find yourself accusing other people on this forum of dishonesty? Is the projection getting to you?

    The commenter "sarcasmic" and I don't exactly see eye to eye on most points, but he had you pegged when he summarized one of your statements as "a whole lot of dumb."

    http://reason.com/archives/201.....nt_4080199

    And I don't know "pm," but he caught you with your pants around your ankles, concern-trolling in full view of the women and children:

    http://reason.com/blog/2013/10.....nt_4080537

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    There is no accusation of dishonesty, you plainly implied you were 'on the bus' of libertarianism and wanted to 'get off' if it led to this place where 'the children' are at risk, when, of course, you are not a libertarian and have plainly said so. When I called out this dishonesty and pearl clutching you got upset and are not accusing me of being dishonest and pearl clutching. Sheesh.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -You're the one arguing in favor of paternalism. That puts you squarely in the "For The Children" camp.

    THIS.

    Your entire argument on this thread has been a big 'for the children' ballad, for you to accuse others of it is indeed the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You're the one claiming "compassion" for children.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    And self determination, and parental rights, and non-coercion, whereas your entire argument has been 'oh no, the children!'

  • Dave Krueger||

    But opponents have questioned whether children can reasonably decide to end their own lives.

    Everyone knows that children can't reasonably decide to end their own lives until their 18th birthday at which time they magically become responsible enough to join the military and piss their lives away in some foreign desert (or jungle). Unless they bring a gun to school and shoot up a few of their classmates at which time they are immediately declared to be adults no matter what age they are.

    Actually, now that I think of it, I was able to join the military (potentially pissing my life away in Vietnam) with my parents' permission when I was only 17.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    It seems to me that the coverage of this is dishonest. The law in question does not give a child the ability to undergo assisted suicide, it says that if the parents of a terminally ill or suffering child agree and an expert determines the child understands then it may occur.

  • sarcasmic||

    Just like putting a puppy to sleep!

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Yes, because whenever I have had a dog put to sleep an expert determined the dog understood what went on, and the relationship of a parent and child is exactly like that of a dog and its owner.

    Sheesh. When someone's child is terminally ill and suffering, who do you think should make this kind of decision? Politicians? You and other voters? Some bureaucrat? Or the child and parents involved?

  • Virginian||

    "expert" is a statist word for bureaucrat.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "Honey, your mother and I, and this state-certified expert, have agreed that your life is not worth living and you may as well off yourself. So please sign this consent form and get this over with!

    "Wait, do I smell beer on your breath? You know you're too young to drink!"

  • Marshall Gill||

    Sheesh. When someone's child is terminally ill and suffering, who do you think should make this kind of decision? Politicians? You and other voters? Some bureaucrat? Or the child and parents involved?

    And once a child becomes the ward of the State then bureaucrats become the "parents". Sure that will work out good!

    You sure you didn't mean to put your hand in the Shriek puppet instead of the Bo one? Your characters are starting to merge.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -And once a child becomes the ward of the State then bureaucrats become the "parents".

    What in the world are you even talking about? Your SoCon proclivities have you talking incoherently in this situation.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Yes, Virginian, much better that expert politicians should make an absolute rule restricting freedom to choose than have an expert consult to make sure a child understands and agrees with his parents decision in such a matter.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    The "expert" part of the bill is probably more fucked up than any other part of this proposed legislation.

    I see nothing salutary (much less reassuring) about the fact that a child will be interrogated on this issue by the same class of individual as those "experts" who conjured up the daycare sex abuse cases in the 80s. I would oppose the legislation in any case, but it is made worse -- not better -- by the intrusion of such "experts" into the situation, as it seems clear that they will come into the position with vested ideological aims and possibly the notion of making a name for themselves on the corpse of a child. Far better to allow the parents sole prerogative in offing their children, if such a thing is to be allowed in the first place.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    If there were not expert playing this role then the anti-choice crowd would be screaming about evil parents offing their children against he child's will to avoid the medical costs and such.

    I am not a big fan of the expert part of the law, but it is there for that reason. I think it also can be defended on the grounds that it would be quite cruel to end a child's life where that child wanted to live (or was even too confused or fearful about what this would mean), even if parent's honestly thought their suffering should be ended.

  • SIV||

    Do you know who else had a policy in Belgium to "euthanize" children?

  • Enoch Root||

    Sancho d'Avila?

  • Harvard||

    Margret Sanger?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Sanger was a moderate by modern standards. She wouldn't kill you - she'd just give you the choice between sterilization and going to a government work camp for the rest of your life

  • cavalier973||

    How generous of her.

  • Ted S.||

  • cavalier973||

    The Post’s reporting on the proposed bill comes after a transsexual was helped to die in Belgium last month after failed sex-change operations.

    oooh...the details on that must be painful to hear.

  • cavalier973||

    Children are a difficult subject for libertarians, who put a lot of value in an individual’s ability to know what is best for them and in their ability to make choices about what to do with their body.

    Well, children don't know, which is why God gave us parents.

    In many jurisdictions some people under the age of 18 are deemed mature enough to drive, sign up for organ donation, join the military (with parental consent), and have sex, but are not deemed mature enough to vote or smoke.

    It is indeed a ridiculous situation. It was relatively recently that men would get married at age 13, buy a farm or store, and start their careers. We coddle people far too long.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Well if they're too sick to work in the mines why are we still feeding them anyways?

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    It doesn't really take much effort to solve this argument, does it?

    If you don't want your own children to die, DO NOT KILL YOUR OWN CHILDREN. Seems to me that they need their parents consent to do this. If the parents want them gone, and the child wants to be gone, and a doctor says yes, then they can do what they want.

    I wouldn't. But hey, it's not my family. If suicide isn't your thing, don't do it. If the kid still wants to die by the time they're considered an adult, then they can still go through with it despite your wishes.

    You know what would work really well in this context? An advocacy group. If you're opposed to suicide, start one up. Print a newsletter. Schedule counseling. Start a hotline. Do one of the hundreds of things that other concerned, worthwhile people do to help prevent the suicide thats happening RIGHT NOW, while we argue.

    End of discussion.

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