Reports from Europe in the past few days indicate that the Belgian parliament is set to pass laws that will allow for the killing of children under their euthanasia regime. The
International Business Times
reports: 'If child euthanasia is legalized in Belgium, the country would become the first in the developed world to have a law on the books allowing the practice, although the Netherlands has since 2005 not prosecuted doctors who perform euthanasia on some minors as long as the doctors act in accordance with a set of medical guidelines dubbed the Groningen Protocol
.' A distinction, we might add, with very little difference!
The report continues:
'Belgium became the second country in the world after the Netherlands to legalize euthanasia in 2002, but the statute currently extends only to people 18 or older.
The bill, introduced by the Socialist party in December, would lay out guidelines for doctors to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not a child is mature enough to make the decision to end his or her own life, as well as whether a child's health is grave and hopeless enough to warrant euthanasia.
"The idea is to update the law to take better account of dramatic situations and extremely harrowing cases we must find a response to," Socialist party leader Thierry Giet said shortly after the bill was introduced, according to Agence France-Presse.'
The Dutch socialist newspaper Der Morgen wrote
last week "On both sides of the linguistic border, liberals and socialists appear to agree on the fact that age should not be regarded as a decisive criteria in the event of a request for euthanasia," .
Readers will be shocked and outraged, no doubt; but for the Belgians this must surely be simply the logical incremental extension of accepting the principle that killing people is okay. Der Morgen, and perhaps the Dutch and the Belgians, clearly don't want to be accused of ageism!
The International Business Times also reports:
Peter Deconinck, president of the Belgian medical ethics organization Reflectiegroep Biomedische Ethiek, has come out in support of expanding the practice to minors, as has the head of the intensive care unit of Fabiola Hospital in Brussels, who testified before a Belgian Senate committee.
"We all know that euthanasia is already practiced on children," he told the committee. "Yes, active euthanasia."
This is a very weak argument and one exposed recently by Wesley Smith in his online blog. But, once again, it points to the unavoidable incrementalism that is in the DNA of every euthanasia law. Push at the boundaries, make a case for change based on hard cases, flaunt the law - it's all here folks!
Oh! And to make sure that they get the most bang for the buck in the debate, "The bill would also likely allow euthanasia for patients suffering from Alzheimer's and other diseases leading to advanced dementia, who may otherwise be deemed incompetent to make the decision to die."
So, there you have it: those who cannot possibly comprehend the gravity of euthanasia (children) and those who once could but may now not understand are now within the ambit of an increasingly insane law that cannot be contained. Moreover, isn't it precisely these people who are also likely to be among the most vulnerable in society and the most easily influenced or pressured?