Belgium legalises euthansia  for children

Article published on Feb. 14, 2014
Article published on Feb. 14, 2014

Belgium has become the first country in the world to allow euthanasia for children regardless of their age. The Belgian parliament approved a law to this effect on Thursday. Some commentators praise Belgian society for conducting a respectful debate prior to the decision. Others see the move as a break with taboo that will have repercussions far beyond Belgium's borders. 

De Stan­daard - Bel­gium: An as­ton­ish­ingly re­spect­ful de­bate

Bel­gian so­ci­ety has demon­strated a com­mend­able de­gree of mu­tual re­spect in its dis­cus­sion of as­sisted sui­cide for mi­nors, the lib­eral daily De Stan­daard writes: "The de­bate has shown that re­spect is de­ci­sive. It's a good thing to allow peo­ple the pos­si­bil­ity to de­cide on their own fate, within so­cially ac­cepted lim­its. But at the same time it can't be de­nied that this larger scope for in­di­vid­ual de­ci­sion mak­ing also in­flu­ences so­ci­ety. Both the ail­ing in­di­vid­ual and so­ci­ety have a right to ex­press them­selves. They both de­serve to be pro­tected by the law. A fit­ting bal­ance can only be found through mu­tual re­spect. That re­mains an on­go­ing task. It is re­mark­able that a coun­try that is so po­larised in so many areas has been able to dis­cuss this topic with so much vigour, but also with such a high de­gree of se­ri­ous­ness. That in­di­cates a good deal of ma­tu­rity." (14/02/2014)

Rzecz­pospolita - Poland: An at­tack on civil­i­sa­tion 

Civil­i­sa­tion it­self is in dan­ger after the Bel­gian de­ci­sion, in the eyes of the con­ser­v­a­tive daily Rzecz­pospolita: "The head of the Dutch Physi­cians' As­so­ci­a­tion Karl Gun­nig once said very aptly: 'We al­ways knew that the list of re­sult­ing prob­lems would be very long once we ad­mit­ted death as a so­lu­tion.' With the Bel­gians' de­ci­sion we are see­ing this con­firmed once more. ... Imag­ine a child whose ill­ness is a great bur­den for the par­ents. Now they will try to per­suade their child to ask for eu­thana­sia. This over­steps yet an­other line, breaks an­other taboo and con­sti­tutes a step that ul­ti­mately lead to the de­struc­tion of our en­tire civil­i­sa­tion." (14/02/2014)

Pravda - Slo­va­kia: Eu­thana­sia for chil­dren a step too far 

No one has the right to de­cide over the life or death of a child, the left-lean­ing daily Pravda writes: "In today's world many things seem ad­mis­si­ble. Nonethe­less there's a nat­ural bor­der that one doesn't like to over­step. And so it is that many peo­ple with a lib­eral stance on the issue of eu­thana­sia for adults find it hard to imag­ine that it should apply to chil­dren. Mi­nors are not re­spon­si­ble for their acts. They are not al­lowed to de­cide on ques­tions that are far less im­por­tant than the mat­ter of life or death. Today's med­i­cine is in a po­si­tion to de­tect po­ten­tial ill­nesses in a foe­tus. Yet still the par­ents de­cide to have the child. And to every­one's sur­prise, some of these chil­dren are born com­pletely healthy. What doc­tor would have the courage to claim that a child is in­cur­ably ill? ... No one has the right to play God." (14/02/2014)

La Re­pub­blica - Italy: Ide­o­log­i­cal trench wars out of place 

In­stead of fight­ing out an ide­o­log­i­cal bat­tle over the Bel­gian law, we should stop and give the issue of life and death some se­ri­ous thought, the left-lib­eral daily La Re­pub­blica ad­mon­ishes: "Faced with such a ter­ri­ble issue as eu­thana­sia for chil­dren - and its dread­ful sub­chap­ter, eu­thana­sia for new­born ba­bies - we must pause for thought. ... Adopt­ing such a po­si­tion can be in­ter­preted as op­por­tunis­tic or even cow­ardly. But it doesn't mean shirk­ing one's re­spon­si­bil­ity be­cause it's too great, which would also be a le­git­i­mate re­sponse. On the con­trary, this po­si­tion forces us to con­front the prob­lems of life and death and stop hid­ing be­hind ab­so­lutist prin­ci­ples or im­pro­vised com­men­taries on the de­ci­sions of oth­ers. It makes us con­front the issue and ask our­selves ques­tions." (14/02/2014) 

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