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Belgium Legalizes Child Euthanasia


Brantly Millegan - published on 02/13/14

With approval from psychiatrists and parents, children may now decide to commit suicide if they are terminally ill.

The Belgian parliament passed a bill earlier today allowing the euthanasia of children of any age. There were 86 votes in favor, 44 against, and 12 abstentations. The bill still needs to be signed by the country’s king, though there is no expectation of him not signing it.

A man in the public gallery shouted "murderers" in French when the vote was passed, according to Reuters.

In the new bill, according to Reuters, a child seeking euthanasia must be "capable of discernment", they must pass testing by a psychologist, and their parents must approve of their decision.

The bill makes Belgium’s euthanasia laws the most liberal in the world. In 2002, Belgium became the first country in the world to decriminalize euthanasia for terminally ill people over the age of 18. That same year, the Netherlands passed a law allowing for the euthanasia of terminally ill patients 12 and older.

The Catholic Archbishop of Brussels Andre-Joseph Leonard denounced the law as immoral and nonsenical. "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," he said at a prayer vigil last week, according to BBC News.

The Catholic Church has always condemned euthanasia, which it considers to be a form of murder. The Catechism has these strong words against the practice:

"Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded." (
CCC 2277)

Brantly Milleganis an Assistant Editor for Aleteia. He is also Co-Founder and Co-Editor of Second Nature, Co-Director of the International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity, and is working on a M.A. in Theology at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity. He lives with his wife and children in South St. Paul, MN. His personal website is

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