Child Euthanasia in Belguim

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In February, Belgium became the first country in the world to extend its euthanasia laws to children. Lawmakers passed a bill allowing euthanasia in rare cases of terminally ill children. Euthanasia is a controversial topic on its own because it can be seen as accepting that some lives are worth less than others and because it may not always be in the person’s best interest. (BBC) The issue is especially controversial in children because their autonomy is questionable. I will argue that extending euthanasia to children is ethically wrong because these individuals are not autonomous and the act of child euthanasia violates the principle of non-maleficence. (McDonald-Gibson 1)
Children, along with elders with dementia, people with severe disabilities, and those in an unconscious or vegetative state are not treated as autonomous individuals in the medical world. The principle of autonomy can be defined as “giving[ing] rational, competent persons the right to make medical decisions that affect their own lives…because individuals know their own values, beliefs, and preferences. (Parks 217) Children are not considered autonomous because they are not able to fully understand what is going on and, therefore, cannot give educated and informed consent. Children look up to their parents. If a mother or father brings the idea of euthanasia to the child, they will be “loading a gun.” The child may question if euthanasia is what their parents want for them and may assume by implication
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