‘What’s the Use of Keeping this Baby Alive?’ Belgian Lawmakers Legalize Euthanasia for Children

Belgium SenateBELGIUM – Lawmakers in Belgium recently approved a measure that will allow doctors to euthanize children of all ages.

As previously reported, the Belgian Senate overwhelmingly approved a child euthanization bill in December, sending it to the lower legislative house. This month, the lower house voted 86-44 in favor of the measure, despite some international criticism. Belgium’s King Philippe is expected to sign the bill into law.

Once the new measure is enacted, terminally ill children will have the option to end their lives via lethal injection. As long as children understand what euthanasia is and have approval from parents and doctors, they will be free to choose assisted suicide.

Belgium, a predominantly secular country, first sanctioned euthanasia for adults in 2002. Now, the small European nation will become only the second country in the world—along with the Netherlands—to allow child euthanization.

Supporters of the child euthanization measure argue that terminally ill individuals should be allowed to die, regardless of age.

“This [bill] is an act of humanity that allows the doctor to make the most humane course of action for his patient,” Philippe Mahoux, a senator who sponsored the legislation, told The New York Times. “What is scandalous is the suffering of sick children when they are going to die.”

Linda van Roy is a mother from Belgium who supports the new euthanization measures. Two years ago, her 10-month-old daughter slowly died from a terminal disease, and she wishes she could have ended her baby’s life more quickly.

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“That whole period of sedation, you always need to give more and more medication, and you start asking questions,” van Roy told CNN. “And you say, ‘What’s the use of keeping this baby alive?’ ”

“We want for those children to be able to talk about euthanasia and to ask those questions and if they really want to say, ‘Stop, this is it, I don’t want it anymore,’ that they can have a choice,” she added.

However, many people voiced opposition to the euthanasia bill, stating that children should never be asked whether or not they want to intentionally end their lives.

“The law says adolescents cannot make important decisions on economic or emotional issues, but suddenly they’ve become able to decide that someone should make them die,” observed Andre-Joseph Leonard, an archbishop in Belgium.

American businessman and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes likewise expressed concern about the Belgian measure, opining that it exemplifies the “slippery slope” of euthanasia.

“We are on the malignantly slippery slope to becoming a society like that envisioned by Nazi Germany, one in which ‘undesirables’ are disposed of like used tissue,” Forbes wrote in a recent column. “The Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities sidetracked the eugenics movement. But now it’s making a comeback in new garb—we want to kill only to reduce suffering.”

“As euthanasia becomes more accepted—and we become more numb to the horror of murdering people like this—we’ll descend to the next abomination: pressuring the sick to discontinue treatment for a likely fatal illness in the name of ‘saving scarce resources’ for people who have more years ahead of them,” he suggested.

“The true mark of a civilization is in how it treats its most vulnerable members,” Forbes concluded.

Photo: BBC

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  • Kelley Mcnutt

    I’m not sure why more ppl aren’t for it?? A lot of ppl are for the murder of unborn babies but yet they call this what??…..murder?? I’m sorry but its not over until its over and I really don’t think god wants any child to decide to have assisted suicide. That’s just nuts!!!

  • Karel Jan

    As a Belgian I wish for it to be very clear that the children that have the option to choose euthanasia are those whose situation (terminal illness) has developed in such a state that death is luring around the corner. The euthanasia allows for these children to opt-out of another week or so of needless suffering and insurmountable pain. This comes as an alternative to the christian-supported palliative care in Belgium where the child gets dosed morphine in such a way that the child is barely in consciousness until it basically gets overdosed and passes away. Taking this into consideration the Belgian lawmakers and the large majority of the Belgian public (I seem to remember 75% of the Belgians approved) found it to the most humane option.

    Aside from that, some of the other comments mention god and god’s way. You should all understand that as a liberal democracy we have successfully separated church from state. Therefor the considerations of the parliament and senate need not take the considerations of the Vatican as a guide line for our law.

    Next to that I do not understand the problem people (and especially non-belgians) have with this. A child and an adult will never be forced into euthanasia and we have a very rigid control system installed that makes sure that abuse is simply out of the question. On top of that is it a freedom of choice. Those people who wish to adhere the christian principles need not execute them. It offers an option for those who have different believes.

    And finally I hope all of you understand that these references to Nazi’s and horror etc do not help this discussion whatsoever. I am proud of the Belgian lawmakers that the discussion has been under very serene consequences. Belgium does not kill children, belgium does not wish to play god. We are simply implementing the principles of liberal-humanism that form the basis of our nation since our independence in 1830.

    (excuse me for the language mistakes)

    • Hill Strong

      Two points Karel,

      The first is that once such a law is enacted, it will get extended past what was considered acceptable at the time of enactment. This is the nature of human nature. In the end, it will be used to terminate the lives of those who do not want to die or are found to be an “unacceptable” burden (including those who have Down’s Syndrome, or other conditions, including poverty). It is already the case, abortion has been morphed from its original consideration to a life-style choice.

      Secondly, separation of church and state leads to the religious viewpoint of “human secularism” taking control of the state. It is interesting to note that secularists take the view that their beliefs are not religious. If one looks carefully at the way they live their lives, one sees that secularism is as much a religious belief system as any they might call religious.

      I have made the comment previously that the downfall of any society is predicted by the following systems of belief taking hold:

      Child sacrifice – in modern parlance, abortion
      Sexual deviancy – adultery, fornication, homosexual activity, bestiality, pornography, etc
      Corruption – particularly at the leadership level, bribery (including the oft used political donations ploy), etc
      Pleasure focus – which in effect covers the first three points. The me generation or “I have to have it now”, or “If it feels right, …”, etc

      Unfortunately, when societies head down this path, they lose their way, and die from the inside out. Though it is unpalatable to many, the above are the ways that God has defined as sin. The problem ends up being the damage caused to the individual, the family and then the society.

      The major reason why Jesus Christ is so objectionable to many people is that He tells it as it is and then tells us that we cannot do anything about it by our own efforts. But the good news is that we don’t have to, He has already done it. What we have to do is accept and live by Him alone, his love, His power, His grace, His forgiveness, His life.

      This point of view goes completely in the face of what human secularism is all about. To meet the Infinite and find out that He cares even though you are nothing is probably the most humbling experience you can have. The reason there is trouble in this world is because people choose to live by their own means and for themselves and their pleasure. We, as people, have chosen for all the evils, it has been our choice and yet we want to blame someone else for the troubles we bring upon ourselves. Go figure.

      The end result for Belgium from this legislation will be something disastrous in terms of what people are thinking now. Come back in even twenty years and see where it has led.

    • Wade Meyer

      Hill Strong is correct in his statement that secularism is a religion. The reason is that atheism has no moral framework from which to judge. Who is going to say what is right and what is wrong in atheism and secularism? A post-modern building can be a building with walls that do not share dimensions, uneven rooflines, rhombus shaped windows and paint that doesn’t match but its foundation I guarantee is wished to be solid. Don’t pity children that are suffering to the point that you kill them what kind of pity is that? You are playing God.

  • Mzungu writes

    Proverbs chapter 10
    “The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish son is a grief to his mother. Ill-gotten gains do not profit, But righteousness delivers from death. The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will reject the craving of the wicked. Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely, But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully. Blessings are on the head of the righteous, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot. The wise of heart will receive commands, But a babbling fool will be ruined. He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out. He who winks the eye causes trouble, And a babbling fool will be ruined. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions. On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found, But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding. Wise men store up knowledge, But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand. The rich man’s wealth is his fortress, The ruin of the poor is their poverty. The wages of the righteous is life, The income of the wicked, punishment. He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray. He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool. When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, The heart of the wicked is worth little. The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding. It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it. Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool, And so is wisdom to a man of understanding. What the wicked fears will come upon him, But the desire of the righteous will be granted. When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation. Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, So is the lazy one to those who send him. The fear of the Lord prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. The hope of the righteous is gladness, But the expectation of the wicked perishes. The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the upright, But ruin to the workers of iniquity. The righteous will never be shaken, But the wicked will not dwell in the land. The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, But the perverted tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked what is perverted. (Proverbs 10:1-32 NASB)”