Child Euthanasia in Belgium: Church Calls Day of Fasting, Prayer

Rome, (Zenit.org) Ivan de Vargas | 1617 hits

Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Malines-Brussels made an urgent call to all the faithful of the Archdiocese to livea day of fasting and a Vigil of Prayer to “awaken consciences and have a last public debate,” in face of the possible extension of the Law of Euthanasia for minors in Belgium. “Other Christians, believers of other religions, agnostics and atheists” are also invited to join this initiative.

The representatives of the country’s principal religions expressed recently their “intense anxiety in face of the risk of trivialization” of life by this terrible practice. “Let us not trivialize the act of killing, because we are made for life,” said the religious leaders. “To put an end to life is an act that not only kills, but that little by little destroys the bonds that exist in our society, in our families, victims of a growing individualism,” they lamented.

For their part, 58 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe published a statement against the draft law on euthanasia for children in Belgium.

In the document, the parliamentarians consider that the vote of the Belgian Senate “assumes erroneously that children are capable of giving their informed consent to euthanasia” and they deplore that it defends “the unacceptable belief that a life can be unworthy of being lived,” thus questioning the very basis of a civilized society.

It is envisioned that the text, approved by the Senate last December and by the Justice Commission of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives on January 28, will be examined in Plenary Session by the Chamber of Representatives at the end of this week.

The draft law, which extends to minors the 2002 law on euthanasia, could be definitively adopted by the deputies before the end of the legislature this summer.

If approved definitively, it will expand the euthanasia law in force since 2002, which permits euthanasia for adults or capable emancipated minors (15 years or older), with the diagnosis of an irreversible illness, who would endure constant and unbearable physical or psychic suffering or a serious incurable sickness.

The reform which has been promoted by the Belgian Socialists and supported by several political groups, with the exception of the Flemish Vlaams Belang party and the Christian Democrats, acquires great importance as it will become the most permissive, as opposed to that of other countries, such as Holland, which leaves the decision in the hands of the minor between 16 and 18 years of age and exacts paternal consent for cases between 12 and 16 years of age.

According to the Belgian Federal Commission of Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia, 1,432 cases were recorded in 2012, up 25% over the previous year. Moreover, two-thirds of Belgians support the legislation, and three-quarters are also in agreement that parents request euthanasia for their sick children, without the child’s consent.

In Europe, euthanasia is legal in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland.