HomeoldLessons to be learned as Belgium King signs measure legalizing child euthanasia

Lessons to be learned as Belgium King signs measure legalizing child euthanasia

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It’s strange, in a way. Starting with the 50-17 vote in the Belgian Senate in December, followed by an equally lopsided 86-44 vote in the Belgian Chamber of Deputies last month, there was no question that the minimum age for euthanasia would be lifted.

Nevertheless, I was shocked to read today that the Belgian press reported that King Philippe had signed the measure into law on Sunday. I don’t know anything about the political system, except that, as a constitutional monarch, there was virtually no chance that the king would not sign it.

We’ve written dozens of stories about the collapse of medical ethics in Belgium. Let me just add two more considerations that might allow us to “get our heads around it” (a phrase I have read more than once).

This morning I read an article that appeared a few days ago in an Australian newspaper, written by correspondent Barbara Miller.

The article presents a compelling argument that Miller is able to perceive the nuances of the situation and is intrigued by the phenomenon of Belgian journalists interviewing journalists from other countries. The locals’ fascination with this phenomenon can be attributed to the fact that the killing of children of any age is not perceived as a significant issue. This leads to the question of why so many reporters have chosen to parachute into Belgium to cover this story. (There is evidently strong support, at least as judged by public opinion polls, which ask the question in the tamest possible manner.)

She poses the question earlier in her story, “How could a child possibly ever be in the position to ask to die and how could a society sanction that?” (Being able to give “consent” to their own deaths is one of the boxes that needs to be checked.) This is one of the typical reassurances that the impact will be limited and that there are more protections than there are fish in the sea. As previously stated in this publication, Belgian commentators and medical personnel are displeased that anyone could entertain doubts about, or even look down upon, what they consider to be a mere extension of the Enlightenment.

Yet, as Miller writes

“One doctor we interviewed, who is in favour of the bill, says it annoys him when media reports about the bill show pictures of very young children. But when I ask him if, hypothetically, a 10-year-old could request euthanasia under the new law, he agrees that it is theoretically possible”.

Just to be clear, it’s not theoretically possible, it IS possible, and will no doubt be heralded as a victory for ‘autonomy’ when the first case goes public.

However, for those of us on the outside, neonatal euthanasia is – as opponents argue – a “step too far”. (Actually, it’s not a step at all, but a giant leap into a moral abyss, but we’ll leave that for another day).

But when Miller asks a supporter why he supported the bill, there is no hesitation. His answer speaks volumes:

“‘I’m a liberal,’ says Senator Jean-Jacques De Gucht when we finally sit down and I ask him why he’s been so outspoken on this issue.”

Miller’s response?

“A simple but striking answer to this complex question.

“The rational, intellectual approach seems somehow quintessentially European.”

Ah, yes, so “European”. So sophisticated, so intellectual, so rational, and so bloodless.

It is also worth considering a quotation from Dr. Peter Saunders, which I have previously cited. It is particularly helpful in clarifying the circumstances surrounding the legalisation of euthanasia for children in Belgium. It is likely that this issue will be discussed in other countries, including Belgium’s northern neighbour, the Netherlands.

“I have never been convinced by the term ‘slippery slope’, which implies passive change over time. What we are seeing in Belgium is more accurately called ‘incremental extension’, the steady, deliberate escalation of numbers with a gradual expansion of the categories of patients to be included.

“I recently described the similarly steep increase in assisted suicide cases in Oregon (450% since 1998) and Switzerland (700% over the same period). In the Netherlands, the number of official cases of euthanasia (by lethal injection) has doubled since 2006, although many more people (possibly up to 12.3% of all deaths) are having their lives actively ended through the process of ‘continuous deep sedation’, where doctors deeply sedate patients and then withhold fluids with the explicit intention that they will die.

“The lessons are clear. Once you relax the law on euthanasia or assisted suicide, a steady expansion will follow as night follows day”.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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