Should terminally ill children suffering from unbearable pain be given the right to die? Belgian lawmakers decided to grant that right and now for the first time, a minor chose to die through euthanasia.
A 17-year old became the first patient to be assisted to die in Belgium since the age restriction was lifted in 2014. The head of the Federal Euthanasia Commission said that the teen was suffering “unbearable physical pain”.
According to the CNN, the law was passed by parliament 86 to 44 with 12 abstentions. The law required that the child be terminally ill and face “unbearable physical suffering”. They should also make repeated requests to end their life before assisted dying is considered.
Euthanasia commission head Wim Distelmans said that the patient was almost 18 at the time when he requested to die. Doctors used “palliative sedation” which put the patient into an induced coma before carrying out the process.
Fortunately though there are very few children who are considered for euthanasia. But Distemans told a local newspaper that it does not mean they shall refuse them the right to a dignified death.
Euthanasia In Belgium
According to the BBC, Belgium is the only country in the world where minors have the right to request their death. Still parents of the terminally ill patients must give their consent to end their child’s life.
The issue of whether assisted dying should be permitted at all has been a hot topic in the world of medicine and religion. While some argue for the sanctity of life others emphasize alleviating suffering, preserving bodily integrity, and personal autonomy. Even so-called secular countries are at an impasse on whether to adopt lows permitting the act of mercy killing.
Currently the only countries where human euthanasia is legal are The Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, and Luxembourg. However, assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Canada, and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, and California.