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Old 13.12.2013, 14:26
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Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia [assisted death with consent] to children

I'm actually speechless

Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children


Jean-Jacques De Gucht of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats spoke in favour of the bill

The Belgian Senate has voted in favour of extending its euthanasia law to terminally-ill children.

The Senate voted 50-17 in favour of the legislation, which is opposed by religious leaders in Belgium.

The bill seeks to allow children to ask for euthanasia if their illness is terminal, they are in great pain and there is no available treatment.

It will now go before the lower house of parliament, where correspondents say it is likely to be approved.

Belgium passed a law decriminalising euthanasia for terminally-ill people over the age of 18 in 2002.

The latest bill proposes to make Belgium the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.

But it stipulates a number of caveats on euthanasia:
  • It says the patient must be conscious of their decision and understand the meaning of euthanasia
  • The request must have been approved by the child's parents and medical team
  • Their illness must be terminal
  • They must be in great pain, with no available treatment to alleviate their distress
In November, 16 paediatricians urged lawmakers in Belgium to approve the legislation in an open letter.

"Experience shows us that in cases of serious illness and imminent death, minors develop very quickly a great maturity, to the point where they are often better able to reflect and express themselves on life than healthy people," said their statement.

During the Senate debate, supporters of the bill said it would empower doctors and terminally-ill children to make a difficult decision.

"There is no age for suffering and, next to that, it's very important that we have a legal framework for the doctors who are confronted with this demand today and for the minors, for the capable minors, who are suffering today, and who I think should have the freedom to choose how they cope with their suffering," said Senator Jean-Jacques de Gucht, of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats.

But opponents in the Senate said children were not capable of making such a decision.

"We think that children don't understand the character of death, they don't understand the irreversibility of death," said Els Van Hoof of the Christian Democratic and Flemish party. "They are also influenced by authority, by their parents, by the medical team. So, to take a decision which is a huge decision about their death we don't think that they are capable of doing it."

In 2012, Belgium recorded 1,432 cases of euthanasia in 2012, up by 25% from 2011.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25364745
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Old 13.12.2013, 14:31
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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I'm actually speechless
Why?

I don't see anything wrong with it.
There are a lot of caveats and both parents have to approve it, and it has to be a terminal illness with lots of pain. Why would anyone want the poor souls to suffer if there could be an alternative that alleviates all of this?
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Old 13.12.2013, 14:34
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

Agreed LoveDoctor. Castro do not underestimate the ability of children to make such a choice- they really can understand unbearable pain and that death will follow inevitably, and make the choice to shorten the period of suffering. With all the kaveats and limitations included in the new Law, which ensure that children do understand the finality and other aspects of death. The Law in Belgium only allows over 18s to make the decision so far. A 5 year old will probably not understand the issues sufficiently, but most 10 to 17 year old would be.
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Old 13.12.2013, 14:45
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

Speechless because some idiotic journalist used word children in title? They are talking about mature self awared people who are not yet 18 years (we all know this is a magic barrier after which we all got suddenly responsible). Not powerless toddlers who are killed by stepmother to get new shinny black dress (and hat with veil) for funeral.
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Old 13.12.2013, 14:56
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

Because in Belgium I believe it has gone too far, there is an ugly culture of death where euthanasia has been used on patients with blindness, depression, anorexia nervosa, and even a botched sex change operation. Belgian doctors are already killing newborns with spina bifida at the parents' request. Euthanasia is now considered to be medical therapy.

I don't believe a child can comprehend what euthanasia or death is. Its actually baffling that on one hand they're not considered mature enough to drink or buy cigarettes but yet they are allowed to choose their own death? As someone who has worked in Pharmaceuticals their entire life, I believe doctors should use the world class palliative care at their fingertips to alleviate suffering i.e. caring as opposed to killing.

Anyway some commentators are suggesting that this is more a symbolic victory for the socialist and liberal parties to show that Christianity in Belgium is dead. If true, its pathetic that they should chose such an emotive subject for their campaign.
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Old 13.12.2013, 15:39
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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Because in Belgium I believe it has gone too far, there is an ugly culture of death where euthanasia has been used on patients with blindness, depression, anorexia nervosa, and even a botched sex change operation. Belgian doctors are already killing newborns with spina bifida at the parents' request. Euthanasia is now considered to be medical therapy.
I have to admit I don't know much about said "culture" as you describe it, and I don't want to comment on something I don't know. The legislation as described in the article you posted seems rational enough and puts various safeguards there to protect the vulnerable.
Now if the existing legislation has been misused then it's up to the legislators and people overseeing the implementation of the legislation to tighten things up. But in principle there is nothing bad about this legislation (IMHO)

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I don't believe a child can comprehend what euthanasia or death is. Its actually baffling that on one hand they're not considered mature enough to drink or buy cigarettes but yet they are allowed to choose their own death? As someone who has worked in Pharmaceuticals their entire life, I believe doctors should use the world class palliative care at their fingertips to alleviate suffering i.e. caring as opposed to killing.
I don't believe a child can comprehend the above as well, and hence why the legislation has put in place those safeguards. Even if the child understands they are under so much pain that they are not able to make rationally correct decisions. And this is where those caveats come into play, the parents consent first and then the illness conditions, pain and probably a practitioner who has to make sure there is nothing that can be done.

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Anyway some commentators are suggesting that this is more a symbolic victory for the socialist and liberal parties to show that Christianity in Belgium is dead. If true, its pathetic that they should chose such an emotive subject for their campaign.
I will not comment on this as I think it's irrelevant to bring religion into a political debate. But that's just me.
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Old 13.12.2013, 15:43
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

During my year in pediatrics, I saw so many difficult and sad cases of terminally ill children with no hope for recovery, no treatment not even experimental, and how much parents suffer.
It must be a difficult decision, but I think this opens the door for a more 'humane' if anything, ending of the life of an innocent child.
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Old 13.12.2013, 15:52
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

Few who have experienced the terminal stage of a child with an auto-immune disease who suffocates to death, would not think it is a humane solution to shorten the process, really. Perhaps difficult to imagine if one has not experienced this, either professionally or personally. Pain relieving drugs can help with ... pain, but not really suffocating, unless the dosage is so high that it is basically the same as euthanasia anyhow. The fine line is very fine.

Bringing politics into this, and scoring points, is indeed pathetic and totally wrong, I agree.
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Old 13.12.2013, 15:58
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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Speechless because some idiotic journalist used word children in title? They are talking about mature self awared people who are not yet 18 years (we all know this is a magic barrier after which we all got suddenly responsible). Not powerless toddlers who are killed by stepmother to get new shinny black dress (and hat with veil) for funeral.
It applies to any age group so an 8 year old with terminal cancer could make such a decision. However, I doubt there's little that morphine can't alleviate when all else has failed so can't really see point 4 being applicable. Unless they're talking about long term eventual cures not being on the horizon.

And I agree that often children "grow up" fast in these situations. I believe some, not all but some, would like to have the chance to make such a decision for themselves.

Castro, The Netherlands on spina bifida, not Belgium. Your article mentions not basing such decisions on parents/guardians emotional state, but isn't this just the same as doctors suggesting to those same people that they switch off life support machines? It's always going to be an emotional decision, we're human. All we can do is put in place appropriate safeguards to protect against abuse of the system. And we are all different. Not all parents can cope with having a child with spina bifida or another serious disease. Is it really right to let that child be put into a home with likely no chance of adoption? To me, quality of life should be the governing factor, not life at any cost.
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Old 13.12.2013, 16:09
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

I believe we must tread carefully with such legislation and the application of it. Yes, children are more perceptive than we sometimes think...but that also means they recognize parents "suffering" because of their (the child's) illness. I have known a few very ill kids, and they would have seriously considered euthanasia-not to end their own suffering but that of their parents.
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Old 13.12.2013, 16:17
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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Few who have experienced the terminal stage of a child with an auto-immune disease who suffocates to death, would not think it is a humane solution to shorten the process, really. Perhaps difficult to imagine if one has not experienced this, either professionally or personally.
Perhaps I am being naive, but I think doctors should do whatever they believe is best to relieve misery and suffering through physical pain. If a child is dying, then it makes sense to make that as painless and free of trauma as possible, and that is well within their Hippocratic oath.

However as we have seen with the general rules on Euthanasia, what started off as robust criteria has over the years been eroded until what we now have are healthy people wanting to die because their soul mate of 50 years has slipped away. As romantic, tragic or otherwise, I don't feel comfortable as a citizen of a democratic state to have laws that allow doctors to play God and decide this person is worthy to die and that person isn't.

So again the criteria for paediatric euthanasia in Belgium currently looks very stringent and robust, but these will be challenged over time and we will see cases of paralysed teenagers being euthanasia because they can't contemplate life without being able to play their favourite sport.

I actually don't feel qualified to discuss this subject as I'm not a scholar on morality or ethics, just a dad and a human being who thinks that below a certain age children should be universally protected and the age of consent respected.
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Old 13.12.2013, 16:19
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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Perhaps I am being naive, but I think doctors should do whatever they believe is best to relieve misery and suffering through physical pain. If a child is dying, then it makes sense to make that as painless and free of trauma as possible, and that is well within their Hippocratic oath.
Yes Castro, you are being a bit naïve Sometimes euthanasia is the most humane way to go, I am not saying it always is, absolutely not.
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Old 13.12.2013, 16:20
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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but it stipulates a number of caveats on euthanasia:
  • it says the patient must be conscious of their decision and understand the meaning of euthanasia
  • the request must have been approved by the child's parents and medical team
  • their illness must be terminal
  • they must be in great pain, with no available treatment to alleviate their distress
I think there are enough precautions inside this. At least as long as their society is working more or less normal.
And if we want to contest youngsters ability to understand death, do we adults understand it? If we just look at all the possibles options (beliefs) about life after death I think it is hard to say we have a coherent opinion.

And to say that someone who cant move from head down is just complaining that he can't play his favorite sport is very, hm, short-sighted. Yes, he can still use his brain and communicate but sorry, that is all. And for many people this is not enough. Try living one day like that.

*sorry chest down, so he can still touch things
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Old 13.12.2013, 16:24
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

Hospices are the way to go - to actually care for the terminally ill. But of course, it costs more. There is really no need for anyone to die in pain. Even if it means the pain killing dose reaches the lethal dose. The difference is in intent.
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Old 13.12.2013, 16:38
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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I actually don't feel qualified to discuss this subject as I'm not a scholar on morality or ethics, just a dad and a human being who thinks that below a certain age children should be universally protected and the age of consent respected.
Please don't take this the wrong way, but as a father, I think your opinion may change if you saw your son or daughter, suffering desparately every day, clinging to life, not living, but existing, perhaps for weeks or months or even longer.

I think in this instance it is almost certainly more cruel and selfish to keep the child (or anyone, expanding this) alive just for the sake of it. Let them slip comfortably into rest, with their loved ones there to guide them.
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Old 13.12.2013, 16:51
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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Perhaps I am being naive, but I think doctors should do whatever they believe is best to relieve misery and suffering through physical pain. If a child is dying, then it makes sense to make that as painless and free of trauma as possible, and that is well within their Hippocratic oath.

However as we have seen with the general rules on Euthanasia, what started off as robust criteria has over the years been eroded until what we now have are healthy people wanting to die because their soul mate of 50 years has slipped away. As romantic, tragic or otherwise, I don't feel comfortable as a citizen of a democratic state to have laws that allow doctors to play God and decide this person is worthy to die and that person isn't.

So again the criteria for paediatric euthanasia in Belgium currently looks very stringent and robust, but these will be challenged over time and we will see cases of paralysed teenagers being euthanasia because they can't contemplate life without being able to play their favourite sport.

I actually don't feel qualified to discuss this subject as I'm not a scholar on morality or ethics, just a dad and a human being who thinks that below a certain age children should be universally protected and the age of consent respected.
Sorry, Castro, but I can't agree. If someone feels that strongly that's their decision - not the doctor's. If they are unable to do it by themselves then they should, after appropriate checks have been done, be allowed to be helped without a doctor or other person risking being sent to prison over it. Whether they could live a fulfilling life is mute, it's their perception of what is a fulfilling life that matters and not everyone sees it in the same way.
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Old 13.12.2013, 17:46
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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Perhaps I am being naive, but I think doctors should do whatever they believe is best to relieve misery and suffering through physical pain. If a child is dying, then it makes sense to make that as painless and free of trauma as possible, and that is well within their Hippocratic oath.

However as we have seen with the general rules on Euthanasia, what started off as robust criteria has over the years been eroded until what we now have are healthy people wanting to die because their soul mate of 50 years has slipped away. As romantic, tragic or otherwise, I don't feel comfortable as a citizen of a democratic state to have laws that allow doctors to play God and decide this person is worthy to die and that person isn't.

So again the criteria for paediatric euthanasia in Belgium currently looks very stringent and robust, but these will be challenged over time and we will see cases of paralysed teenagers being euthanasia because they can't contemplate life without being able to play their favourite sport.

I actually don't feel qualified to discuss this subject as I'm not a scholar on morality or ethics, just a dad and a human being who thinks that below a certain age children should be universally protected and the age of consent respected.
Castro, im with you on this. There is far too much potential for this system to be abused. With an outright ban, few people would even contemplate trying to euthanise their child. With legal enshrinement, Impassioned and emotionally unstable parents may consider this a possibility based on their limited medical understanding, and medical teams will feel pressured to adhere to the parents wishes.

Regarding the terminal aspect; this changes over time. A 95 year old man with a severe and terminal degenerative disease probably wont be alive when and if a cure or solution is available, but who's to say what will be considered terminal in 20 years? Stem cell research is surging ahead and the potentials it has are mindblowing. What we consider terminal today may in fact not be in 10 years, or 20 years. This is of limited use to a man in his 90s, but to a 10 year old?

The christian fellow also raises a good point - Children are very easily influenced. They may see their parents suffering and wish to end it, without quite understanding the finality and irreversibility of death. what measures are there in place to stop this?

We, as a race, are not developed enough, or enlightened enough, to consider this a good idea.
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Old 13.12.2013, 17:53
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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Hospices are the way to go - to actually care for the terminally ill. But of course, it costs more. There is really no need for anyone to die in pain. Even if it means the pain killing dose reaches the lethal dose. The difference is in intent.
Hospices are wonderful places- for those who want to go to a hospice. I reseve the right not to want to.
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Old 13.12.2013, 18:24
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

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Hospices are the way to go - to actually care for the terminally ill. But of course, it costs more. There is really no need for anyone to die in pain. Even if it means the pain killing dose reaches the lethal dose. The difference is in intent.
One of the things that worries me is that I see the euthanasia debate at present overshadowing the hospice movement.

When facing end of life decisions it is not just a question of euthanasia or painful death - the third choice, palliative care, IMO is not well enough understood.

There are not enough resources put into the hospice option. If palliative care were more readily available - which also means affordable - if the various options for support and mitigation of suffering were presented as a matter of course when discussing a terminal illness, I wonder how that would affect a terminal patient's choices.

My own experience has been that hospice made what might have been terrible deaths pain-free and peaceful. The support and comfort the patient and family receive is incredible - hospice is a choice that should be available to all.
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Old 13.12.2013, 18:27
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Re: Belgian Senate votes to extend euthanasia to children

Totally agree, Meloncollie- but the third option is also valid and should also be a true choice.
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