Belgium has voted in favour of legalising euthanasia for children. Following approval in the Belgian Senate, the House of Representatives has also voted to extend their current euthanasia law to people under the age of 18, reports The Tablet.
The law was approved by 86 votes to 44, with 12 abstentions. Fifty of the 71 members of the Belgian Senate voted in favour of the legislation in November last year.
The new legislation will allow euthanasia for children who are terminally ill or in unbearable pain. The law stipulates that patients must be conscious and understand what euthanasia means and must have made multiple requests for death.
News.com.au reports that during public debate, religious leaders of all faiths argued that extending euthanasia to the young risked 'trivialising' death. In recent days, the Catholic Church staged 'a day of fasting and prayer' in protest and this week some 160 pediatricians petitioned lawmakers to postpone the vote on the grounds it was both ill-prepared and unnecessary.
'Pain can be eased nowadays, there’s been huge progress in palliative care,' said cancer specialist and signatory Nadine Francotte.
Belgian parliament approves child euthanasia (The Tablet)
Belgians approve euthanasia for children of all ages (news.com.au)