As the Belgium Parliament debated a government bill to extend the use of euthanasia to children, Luca Volontè, chairman of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, declared:
“The developments in Belgium starkly demonstrate the mission creep that is inevitably pursued once euthanasia is legalised; a relentless march towards a culture of death with less and less justification being needed as ending the lives of the vulnerable becomes evermore socially acceptable. Last year saw a 25% increase in euthanasia with Belgium doctors justifying the killing of patients for suffering blindness, anorexia and depression. Now the target is children. Children who are not deemed legally responsible to smoke, buy alcohol or get married yet will supposedly be able to rationally decide whether their young lives are worth living. That a government would actually deem this feasible and acceptable is both sickening and deplorable.”
Were the bill to pass, it would be the first legal extension of euthanasia to minors anywhere in the world. The ruling Belgium Socialist party, who devised the bill, are also seeking to extend euthanasia to patients in the very early stages of dementia. Last year saw a record 1,432 cases of euthanasia in Belgium, compared to the 235 of the first year of legalised euthanasia.
The proposal for child euthanasia has gained criticism from one of Belgium’s main opposition parties, Christian Democrats and Flemish, who may take this cause to the European Court of Human Rights should the bill pass; a likely scenario considering support for ever looser requirements to end life is very high amongst Belgians, with three-quarters stating it would be acceptable for parents to choose euthanasia for the patient even without the child’s own consent.
Luca Volontè continued:
“The accepted mantra of doctors was once ‘do no harm.’ Yet the experience of Belgium is a callous rejection of this ethos, with the preferred prescription for the most vulnerable gradually becoming killing over care. Once a society accepts the principle of death as an acceptable course of treatment, it is only a matter of time before any restrictions placed upon that principle are diminished and removed. Euthanising children is the latest, tragic development of this flawed, nihilistic logic.”