Belgian Lawmakers Considering Allowing Child Euthanasia


Credit: Felix42 contra la censura / / CC BY-NC-SA

Belgian 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.