The Belgian Act Of Euthanasia

2583 WordsNov 20, 201411 Pages
On March 3rd 2014, the law was changed in Belgium to abolish all age restrictions on euthanasia. This amendment allows euthanasia for terminally ill children who are exposed to “constant and unbearable suffering” (1). The act was passed in the Belgian Parliament with 86 votes in favour, and 44 against (with 12 abstentions). This amends Belgium’s previous law, “The Belgian Act on Euthanasia”, which was passed in 2002 (2), whereby euthanasia was only available to individuals over the age of eighteen or emancipated minors. There are several arguments in favour of this amendment including the belief that the rights of autonomy and justice must extend to children. Furthermore, prolonging life where the child has a loss of dignity and a reduced quality of life is seen by some as inhumane. In contrast, opponents of the amendment believe that the child’s right to life and doctor’s obligation to save life are both severely undermined. Opponents are concerned that a child does not possess the capacity to make the decision to end their own life. There is also the worry that granting paediatric euthanasia may lead to a ‘slippery slope’ whereby children could be euthanized without making a fully voluntary request. Despite the fact that public opinion was broadly in favour of the amendment (3), the question must be asked, was the amendment of this law in favour of murder or mercy? In order to understand this debate, the term euthanasia must be defined. Euthanasia is literally translated
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