Belgium looks at euthanasia for minors, Alzheimer's sufferers

Belgium is considering a significant change to its decade-old euthanasia law that would allow minors and Alzheimer's sufferers to seek permission to die.

The proposed changes to the law were submitted to parliament Tuesday by the Socialist party and are likely to be approved by other parties, although no date has yet been put forward for a parliamentary debate.

"The idea is to update the law to take better account of dramatic situations and extremely harrowing cases we must find a response to," party leader Thierry Giet said.

The calls for "the law to be extended to minors if they are capable of discernment or affected by an incurable or suffering that we cannot alleviate."

Belgium was the second country in the world after the Netherlands to legalise euthanasia in 2002 but it applies only to people over the age of 18.

Socialist Senator Philippe Mahoux, who helped draft the proposed changes, said there had been cases of who "had the capacity to decide" their future.

He said parliamentarians would also consider extended mercy-killing to people suffering from Alzheiner's-type illnesses.

Euthanasia was allowed to an 's patient for the first time in the Netherlands last year.

In Belgium, some 1,133 cases—mostly for terminal cancer—were recorded in 2011, about one percent of all deaths in the country, according to official figures.

A seriously ill prisoner serving a long this year became the first inmate to die under Belgium's euthanasia laws.

Related Stories

Reported Dutch euthanasia cases rise

date Sep 26, 2012

(AP)—The number of doctor-assisted suicide cases reported in the Netherlands grew by 559 between the years of 2010 and 2011, a commission says.

Dutch group launch mobile mercy killing teams

date Feb 29, 2012

Six specialised teams, each with a doctor, will criss-cross the Netherlands as of Thursday to carry out euthanasia on patients at home whose own doctors refused to do so, a pro-mercy killing group said.

The role of nurses in physician-assisted dying

date May 17, 2010

Nurses in Belgium who administer life-ending drugs in euthanasia and in cases without explicit patient request often act outside of the law, according to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Recommended for you

Breastfeeding protects against environmental pollution

date May 22, 2015

Living in a city with a high level of vehicle traffic or close to a steel works means living with two intense sources of environmental pollution. However, a study conducted by the UPV/EHU researcher Aitana ...

When it comes to hearing, diet may trump noise exposure

date May 22, 2015

Although the old wives' tale about carrots being good for your eyesight has been debunked, University of Florida researchers have found a link between healthy eating and another of your five senses: hearing.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.