Belgium: towards extending euthanasia to minors?

Publié le : 28 May 2013

 In Belgium, where there is keen debate on the question of the extension of the law on euthanasia to minors and people afflicted with dementia (Gènéthique press review on February 18th, 2013 and on March 11st, 2013), a large majority seems to be in favour of the bill extending it to minors.             

Two principal aspects are being debated. Firstly, the extension conditions: while "some proposals establish an age (12 or 15) from which a minor could request euthanasia," others "refer to ‘the mental competence’ of the minor, in dialogue with the parents and the doctors." Secondly, the question of parental authorisation is raised: "what can be done of a minor aged 15 who is seriously ill expresses the wish to die and the parents are totally opposed?"
However, some MPs openly question the relevance of such a law because during the hearings it was pointed out that "no case of euthanasia involving a minor under 18 (hence, in application of the present law) has been officially recorded in recent years."    
Speaking for the bishops of Belgium, Monsignor André-Joseph Léonard, archbishop of Malines-Bruxelles, says that they find it strange that minors can be "held to be legally incapable of certain acts (buying a building, marrying) […]  and then suddenly held to be mature enough, in the eyes of the law, to be assisted to die, the most serious decision that could be taken regarding them." (Gènéthique press review from Marc 4th, 2013). 

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