Belgian lawmakers extend euthanasia law to children

Belgian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to extend the country’s euthanasia law to children under 18.

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Belgian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to extend the country’s euthanasia law to children under 18.

The law empowers children with terminal ailments who are in great pain to ask to be put to death by their doctor if their parents agree and a psychiatrist or psychologist certifies they are conscious of what their choice signifies.

It has wide public support, but was opposed by some pediatricians and the country’s Roman Catholic clergy. As House of Representative members cast their ballots and an electronic tally board lit up with enough green lights to indicate the measure would carry, a lone protester in the chamber shouted “assassins!”

Hans Bonte, a Socialist, said no member of the House hopes the law will ever be made use of. But he said all Belgians, including minors, deserved the right to “bid farewell to life in humane circumstances” without having to fear they were breaking the law.

The 86-44 vote in the House, with 12 abstentions, followed approval by the Senate last December.

Laurent Louis, an independent House member who opposed the legislation, said the majority of his colleagues were violating the natural order.

“A child is to be nutured and protected, all the way to the end, whatever happens,” Louis said. “You don’t kill it.

Another House member, Catherine Fonck, said the legislation was riddled with flaws and didn’t address the possibility that one parent may favour euthanasia while the other is opposed.

All 13 proposed amendments seeking changes in the bill were defeated.

Daniel Bacquelaine, a physician and leader of the centrist Reform Movement, said it is wrong to think life and death questions should be reserved for adults. He stressed that the law imposed no obligations, and that no child, family or doctor would be forced to apply it.

The law will go into effect when signed by King Philippe. The Belgian monarch is not expected to oppose the measure, said Jean-Jacques De Gucht, a co-sponsor.

Belgium’s euthanasia law, passed in 2002, previously applied only to legal adults. The neighbouring Netherlands allows euthanasia for children as young as 12, providing their families agree.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Aaron Goodvin sings at Westerner Days

Aaron Goodvin performed at Westerner Days Wednesday.… Continue reading

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Central Alberta

There’s a severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Red Deer and the… Continue reading

WATCH: Sun shines on Red Deer’s Westerner Days parade

George Young has been a Westerner Days parade marshal for about 28… Continue reading

Central Alberta receives funding for regional emergency training

Alberta Municipal Affairs announces $160,000 for training on top of $40,000 previously received

WATCH: Global FMX at Westerner Days

There are three freestyle motocross shows a day at Westerner Park this week

Study links air pollution to drop in national park visitors

DENVER — Visitors appear to be steering clear of some U.S. national… Continue reading

Banff’s bathroom bears returned to the park after 15 months of rehab in Ontari

Three cubs found abandoned in a washroom along the Trans-Canada Highway in… Continue reading

Canada could get caught in cross-fire of U.S. uranium investigation

Canada could get caught in the crossfire after the U.S. Department of… Continue reading

Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled his pre-election cabinet, shuffling… Continue reading

Canada’s premiers meet Indigenous groups, although three major groups decline

BOUCTOUCHE, N.B. — Canada’s premiers are meeting with Indigenous organizations in New… Continue reading

An updated list of federal cabinet ministers following Wednesday’s shuffle

OTTAWA — An updated list of federal cabinet ministers following Wednesday’s shuffle,… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month