Belgium moves closer to euthanasia for minors

June 20, 2013

Belgian lawmakers on Thursday moved closer to legalising the euthanasia of minors, so long as they are judged capable of deciding for themselves.

Four senators from parties in the governing coalition formally put forward changes to a 2002 law that made Belgium the second country in the world after The Netherlands to legalise mercy killing in certain cases.

Their parties said they would back the changes and is likely to approve them in coming months.

Euthanasia is currently legal only for those aged 18 but experts have told parliament that in practice euthanasia on children was already taking place, without any set guidelines.

Changes to the law were submitted for debate in parliament in December and legislators have been discussing them there since February.

Discussions have centred on the minimum age should the law be changed, and senators on Thursday settled on a 's "capacity to discern", which would be assessed by a .

The proposals have the support of the four ' parties although they will be opposed by two of the other parties in the senate majority—the Christian Democrat, Flemish speaking CD&V and the centrist but Christian-inspired Francophone CDH.

They are then expected to win a parliamentary majority in the following months with several parties saying they would back them.

A separate issue of whether to extend the law to those suffering from a mental deficiency remains unresolved.

Belgium recorded a record 1,432 cases of euthanasia in 2012, up 25 percent from the previous year. They represented two percent of all deaths.

There are strict conditions governing the act including that patients must be capable, conscious and have to give a "voluntary, considered and repeated" request to die.

Explore further: Dutch, Belgians mark decade of 'mercy killings'

Related Stories

Reported Dutch euthanasia cases rise

September 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.

Belgium debates euthanasia for minors

February 20, 2013

Belgian legislators opened a debate Wednesday on whether to amend a decade-old law on euthanasia to cover minors, being told by experts that it was already taking place in practice without any set guidelines.

Belgian Nobel winner commits euthanasia at 95

May 6, 2013

Eminent Belgian scientist Christian de Duve, a winner of the Nobel prize for medicine, died Saturday aged 95 after committing euthanasia, which is legal in Belgium, his family said.

Recommended for you

Older people getting smarter, but not fitter

August 31, 2015

Older populations are scoring better on cognitive tests than people of the same age did in the past —a trend that could be linked to higher education rates and increased use of technology in our daily lives, say IIASA population ...

Higher intelligence score means better physical performance

August 14, 2015

New research reveals a distinct association between male intelligence in early adulthood and their subsequent midlife physical performance. The higher intelligence score, the better physical performance, the study reveals. ...

0 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.