from February 14...
Pro-life groups have called Belgium's recent passage of a "right
to die" law that allows terminally ill children the permission to
end their own lives "abhorrent and inhumane," questioning how
a civilized society would sanction such an option.
"No civilized society allows children to kill themselves. Far from
a compassionate law, this law hands the equivalent of a loaded
gun to a child with the astonishing belief that the child should be
free to pull the trigger if he or she so chooses. Belgium's
decision to allow this is grotesquely abhorrent and inhumane,"
said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Roger
Kiska in a statement. The Belgian Chamber of Deputies voted
86–44 on Thursday in favor of the controversial law.
ADF added that it had sent the Belgian Parliament a legal
analysis that said the proposed law operated under the premise
that life is not worth living and children are somehow mature
enough to make such a decision on their own. The group added
that the newly passed law "exploits vulnerable children by
handing to them a 'freedom' that they are completely ill-
equipped to bear."
Under the "right to die" legislation , all age restrictions will be
removed from the European nation's existing euthanasia law.
Belgium, where close to 75 percent of the population is said to
be Roman Catholic, becomes the first country in the world with
such a law. Children who wish to end their own lives must be
tested by psychologists and must be "capable of discernment"
when making such a decision.
Supporters of the law played down the controversy, arguing that
it will only be used in rare cases.
"This is not about lethal injections for children, this is about
terminally ill children, whose death is imminent and who suffer
greatly," said Carina Van Cauter, from the Flemish Liberal
Democrats who back the law.
"There are clear checks and balances in the law to prevent
abuse," she added.
Carine Brochier from the European Institute of Bioethics said,
however, that the law is dangerous and questioned whether it
really would apply only to a small number of cases.
"You don't make a law for three people a year, that's really
crazy," Brochier said.
"People are getting used to this idea of euthanasia in order to
say okay, well if I don't want to live anymore then I will ask for
euthanasia. If I suffer, the answer is euthanasia," she continued.
"If you offer euthanasia then some parents might be tempted to
act and to ask for euthanasia."
The Joni and Friends International Disability Center, which
serves as the administrative center for ministries which provide
outreach to thousands of families affected by disability around
the world, also criticized the law, reminding readers that the
U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
specifically states that "every human being has the inherent right
to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its
effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal
basis with others."
"I don't understand how the Belgian legislators can ratify the
CRPD yet at the same time, offer a so-called right-to-die not
only to adults, but – heartbreakingly – to children who may feel
distraught by their incurable conditions (which could include
disabilities)," wrote Joni Eareckson Tada, founder and CEO of
"It is abhorrent that we should burden a child with such an
unthinkable responsibility in deciding when his or her life should end. Society's unwritten moral law has always led us to save our children, not destroy them – and certainly not to allow them to destroy themselves."
The head of the Catholic Church in Belgium, Brussels Archbishop
Andre-Joseph Leonard, led a prayer vigil last week against the
law, and asked why minors would be granted such responsibility
when they had to wait until 18 years of age to receive other legal
"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," Archbishop
Other European nations where euthanasia is legal, but not for
children, include the Netherlands and Luxembourg, while
Switzerland permits assisted suicide.