Doctors in Belgium have killed three children by euthanasia in the past two years, official figures have revealed. Source: Catholic Herald.
The deaths of the “unemancipated minors” – children living under the care of their parents – were among a record 2,309 cases reported to the authorities in 2016-2017.
They represent the first children to die by lethal injection since Belgium changed the law to allow child euthanasia in 2014.
Although their identities and ages have been kept secret, one is known to have died in late 2016 while the other two died in 2017. All are believed to have suffered from cancer.
Overall, the figures also reveal a 13 per cent increase in euthanasia deaths over the past year and the doubling of such deaths since 2011.
They show the number of euthanasia deaths in 2017 increased by almost 300 cases on the previous year alone, and nearly a tenfold increase since the 259 deaths recorded in 2002-2003, the first year of legal euthanasia in Belgium.
The figures, contained in the 2018 annual report by the Federal Commission for the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia, a government body, show that the majority of cases involved Dutch-speaking cancer patients over the age of 60 years.
Patients who asked for euthanasia because of “polypathologies”, comparatively minor and usually age-related illnesses such as hearing loss and incontinence, also doubled in the past four years from 232 cases to 444 cases.
About two per cent of euthanasia deaths were for psychiatric reasons.
Belgium became the first country in the world to allow child euthanasia when it extended its euthanasia law to terminally-ill children of any age deemed to be suffering unbearably.
To qualify the children must also be judged to have “capacity of discernment”, affirmed by a psychologist, and the consent of their parents.
Supporters of child euthanasia argued during the passage of the bill that just one person under 20 years had requested euthanasia in six years to 2014, to make the point that very few children would ask to die.
Three children killed under Belgium’s euthanasia law (Catholic Herald)