Belgium’s senate has approved a provision that extends the country’s euthanasia laws to children who are terminally ill. See the ABC News story here.
Nobody wants to see children suffer in any way, however, I can think of three immediate problems with this type of legislation.
First, there is the danger that resources for pediatrics and palliative care will be cut or reduced and, therefore, parents will be pressured into having their sick children euthanized.
Second, can children really be expected to make such a choice as this? If children cannot cross the road by themselves in what sense are they competent enough to determine end of life issues?
Third, it is inevitable that such laws would be broadened and constantly liberalized, so that more and more children would qualify to be euthanized. It is not hard to imagine such laws being extended to children with long term illnesses and minor disabilities.
I have friends who have had to make end of life plans for their children. It is not easy. Suffice to say, extending euthanasia to children certainly sets a dangerous precedent.