The Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Should Euthanasia Be Legal For Children? – Emily G., Krysta H.

In 2014, Belgium became the first country to remove any restriction on euthanasia. People in support of this motion argue that minors with terminal illness and cases with unbearable pain should be able to have the same right as an adult and decide on whether or not they want to end their life. A survey in Belgium found that 75% of people supported extending the right of euthanasia of minors.

As a team, we are all for supporting this amendment to Belgium’s 2002 euthanasia law. One of the reasons for our support is due to the fact that the law, now including persons of all ages, provides strict guidelines that each patient must follow in order to be able to follow through with the euthanasia. According to Time Magazine, “the child must be able to request euthanasia themselves and demonstrate they fully understand their choice. The request will then be assessed by teams of doctors, psychologists and other caregivers before a final decision is made with approval of the parents.” This means, that the child’s decision is fully thought through, and they are able to articulate what death means. When first reading this article, our heart was broken, due to the emotional story that Dr. Gerlant Van Berlaer recalled, involving a terminally ill child. The child had seen their best friend in the room next to them, die from suffocation due to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – a disease the child was also dealing with. The child pleaded with the doctor to let him die with dignity with euthanasia, but the doctor could do nothing due to the law not allowing him.

Inkcinct. (2012). The medical case against euthanasia… [Cartoon]. Inkcinct.
According to BBC, some paediatricians argue that children are not capable of making such decisions and can not be expected to make such a difficult choice. When the law was passed one man stood outside Belgium’s Parliament and shouted “murderers” in French. Other people opposed include church leaders like Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard who argue euthanasia is immoral.

“The law says adolescents cannot make important decisions on economic or emotional issues, but suddenly they’ve become able to decide that someone should make them die,”

These arguments are short lived, because children are so much smarter than anyone gives them credit for. Due to the restrictions put on the Belgian law, a child must be able to articulate the meaning of death, and have a complete psychological understanding of what euthanasia will mean to their life,

Think about it. If you were a child, and you knew you were going to die from a disease that is deteriorating your entirety, wouldn’t you want the choice to die with dignity?


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