It has been revealed this week that 2 minors in Belgium were euthanised in 2016 and 2017. The 9-year-old child was suffering from an aggressive brain tumour, while the 11-year-old had cystic fibrosis. The terminally ill children have become the youngest people in the world to be euthanised.
Both children had to undergo intensive testing to ensure they were not being influenced by outside parties, and had the mental capacity to make the decision themselves. A member of the CFCEE (The Federal Commission for Monitoring and Evaluation of Euthanasia), Luc Proot, has spoken out defending the actions of doctors and medical professionals.
“I saw mental and physical suffering so overwhelming that I thought we did a good thing,” Proot told the Washington Post.
After laws were changed in 2014, doctors were allowed to authorise the euthanasia of children under 12. The new law stipulated that euthanasia was permitted on the basis that their quality of life was not going to improve. It had to be agreed upon by physicians that the illness would end the individuals’ life within a short period of time. This did not quell a very negative stigma around allowing children to end their lives.
Euthanasia has been a global topic of debate for years. It is only legal in six countries: Belgium, Colombia, the Netherlands, India, Canada, and Luxembourg. Assisted suicide is a legal option in Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and in some states in the US. This includes Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Montana, and California. Victoria is the only Australian state that has legalised voluntary assisted dying, as of November 2017.
Belgium is currently the only country that allows children under 12 to be euthanised. This has set a precedent for more countries to change their own laws.