Belgium set to be first country to give kids right-to-die

  • Noopur Tiwari, Hindustan Times, Brussels
  • Updated: Feb 14, 2014 10:14 IST

Belgium came a step closer to legalising euthanasia for children more than a decade after it legalised the “right to die” for adults. The bill legalising mercy-killing for minors suffering from “unbearable physical suffering” will was to be put to vote in the Belgian Parliament.

The vote is likely to go through despite opposition from the church and many paediatricians. If the vote does go through, Belgium will become the first country ever to allow euthanasia without any age limit.

Euthanasia supporters consider their response as positive support to the terminally ill in pain. Opponents are either religious or believe that euthanasia trivialises death and involves a high risk of murder. The idea that medically assisted suicide should be a legitimate right of a patient is gaining ground in Europe.

Most countries make a clear distinction between “active euthanasia” which involves a deliberate action to end life and “passive euthanasia” which involves the withdrawal of medical treatment.

Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia in 2002 followed by Belgium and Luxembourg.

In Sweden a terminally ill patient can take the decision to halt life support whereas in Switzerland providing means to assist suicide is legal and does not require medical assistance.

Swiss euthanasia organisations such as ‘Dignitas’ are controversial as they even provide assisted suicide to foreigners.

In France active euthanasia is illegal but the matter has been thrown open to public debate by President Francois Hollande who wants to bring in a law that allows patients to “end their life in dignity”.

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