Terminally-ill minor in Belgium helped to die for first time

Belgium'euthanises terminally ill child in landmark case
Belgium'euthanises terminally ill child in landmark case

18 September, 2016

A terminally ill minor has become the first child to be euthanized in Belgium since age restrictions were lifted in the country two years ago, according to several sources. Critics of the decision, including church leaders and some paediatricians, raised doubts over a child's capacity to make such hard choices, BBC reported.

Belgium amended its euthanasia law in 2014 - following heated debate - opening the possibility of euthanasia to children "in a hopeless medical situation of constant and unbearable suffering that can not be eased and which will cause death in the short term".

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While details were not disclosed, even the age, he described it as an exceptional case of a child with a terminal illness living in the Flemish-speaking section of Belgium.

"We have however realised that children who suffer from incurable or terminal illnesses can have an impressive level of maturity".

To undergo euthanasia, the minor must also be in a "terminal medical situation with constant and unbearable physical pain which can not be assuaged and that will cause death in the short term", the law says.

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Any request for euthanasia must be made by the minor, be studied by a team of doctors and an independent psychiatrist or psychologist and have parental consent.

Socialist Hans Bonte at the time said no member of the House hoped the law would ever be used.

Some have questioned whether children should be allowed to make the choice between life and death.

Mr De Gucht said: "A lot of people - in whatever profession - still have a problem coping with the idea that people can choose when they end their own life".

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