Belgian Lawmakers Approve Extending Euthanasia Law to Children


Credit: David Rassam / Foter / CC BY

As expected, the lower house of Belgium's parliament, the Chamber of Representatives, has voted to extend the country's euthanasia laws to children. King Philippe must approve the change before it can go into effect.

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Euthanasia is the intentional termination of a very sick person's life by a doctor in order to relieve him or her of their pain and suffering.

The right to euthanasia for minors bill was passed in the lower house of the Parliament, the Chamber of Representatives, by 86 to 44 votes. 12 MPs abstained from voting.

The Belgian Senate overwhelmingly approved the proposed change to euthanasia legislation last December in a 50-17 vote.

As the Associated Press explains, only two other countries have legalized euthanasia, the Netherlands and Luxembourg:

Besides Belgium, the only other countries to have legalised euthanasia are the Netherlands and Luxembourg, said Kenneth Chambaere, a sociologist and member of the End-of-Life Care research group at the Free University Brussels and University of Ghent.

In Luxembourg, a patient must be 18. In the Netherlands, children between 12 and 15 may be given euthanasia with their parents' permission, while those who are 16 or 17 must notify their parents beforehand.

Although the change to euthanasia legislation had widespread public support it was opposed by some doctors and Roman Catholic clergy.