“Last year, a member of the euthanasia commission resigned in protest because it refused to recommend prosecution when a woman with dementia who had not requested euthanasia was nevertheless put to death at her family’s request.
Since then, 360 Belgian doctors, academics and others have signed a petition calling for tighter controls on euthanasia for psychiatric patients.”
Deliberately taking a small child’s life is unlawful everywhere in the world, even when the child is terminally ill and asks a doctor to end his or her suffering once and for all.
There is an exception to this rule: Belgium. In 2014, that country amended its law on euthanasia, already one of the most permissive in the world, authorizing doctors to terminate the life of a child, at any age, who makes the request.
For a year after the law passed, no one acted on it. Now, however, euthanasia for children in Belgium is no longer just a theoretical possibility.
Between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017, Belgian physicians gave lethal injections to three children under 18, according to a July 17 report from the commission that regulates euthanasia in Belgium.
Everywhere else in the world, the law reflects powerful human intuitions, moral and practical: that it is wrong to abandon hope for a person so early in life, no matter the illness; that it is absurd to grant ultimate medical autonomy to someone too young to vote or legally consent to sex; and that even the best-intentioned fallible human beings should not be entrusted with such life-and-death power.