Yesterday, the Belgian king signed into law a controversial bill allowing for euthanasia of children. While it seemed unlikely that King Philippe would do anything but sign the bill, there was worldwide controversy surrounding the law, including harsh condemnation from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which rightfully said that this law makes children expendable. None of the controversy and outrage from around the world mattered, though. Children can now legally be killed in Belgium, no matter their age.
Belgian newspapers reported that King Philippe signed the bill into law Sunday, putting to rest weeks of speculation on whether he would approve the law amid strong opposition from Catholic organizations throughout Europe.
The legislation, which grants children the right to request euthanasia if they are “in great pain” and there is no available treatment, makes Belgium the first country in the world where the age of the child is not taken into consideration. Similar legislation exists in the Netherlands, though only for children over the age of 12. In both countries, children are required to receive the consent of parents, doctors and psychiatrists.
The fact that the law “requires” the consent of parents, doctors, and psychiatrists is good enough for defenders of the euthanization of children, and of euthanasia in general. To them, if the law says that such things are required before a person is euthanized, then surely, that’s what will happen.
Those people are living in a fantasy.
Belgium decided to advance this bill because doctors were already euthanizing children, even though it was against the law. And while Belgium’s euthanasia laws require the person requesting it to be either terminally ill or in unbearable pain, that’s not even remotely close to what happens. In Belgium, people are euthanized for blindness, for anorexia, even those who admit that they’re suffering from depression. The twins euthanized because they were going blind, for example, were not terminally ill, nor were they suffering any physical pain. Yet they were miraculously able to be euthanized somehow. Is this something to celebrate?
We’ve seen time and time again that when it comes to euthanasia, the standards and regulations in place never hold. But as sure as the sun will rise, there will be people defending this legislation, saying that no child will be euthanized because, say, his parents find him too much of an inconvenience. It couldn’t possibly happen, because the law requires that the child asks first, right? Just ignore the constant lawbreaking that comes with euthanasia in every single country that allows it. Ignore the slippery slope that never ends. Ignore it all; just close your eyes and ignore reality. It will all be fine. Tell yourself that, and perhaps you’ll be able to sleep at night.
To the people who think that it’s just A-OK to euthanize children of any age, I ask this: what happens when a six-year-old asks to be euthanized? Do you really believe that not only does a six-year-old have the proper mental faculties to truly understand what he’s asking for, but also that he understands all of his options, including hospice and palliative care, and came up with the idea of euthanasia 100% on his own? Who on Earth truly believes that a child is intelligent and mature enough to understand all of this, when children’s brains aren’t even developed enough yet to do so?
I’m also curious what the reaction will be when a toddler is euthanized. How about a baby? Maybe they’ll start teaching babies “euthanasia” in sign language so that we can make sure it’s what the little infant wants. And if they do, then no problem! There’s no age limit now. All of that pesky lawbreaking that seems to keep happening won’t happen this time.
The legalization of this bill is an absolute travesty, and mark my words: it will be the children with disabilities who suffer the most because of this. And people will defend it every step of the way.