Belgium Mulls Law To Allow Euthanasia For Kids

Questions of if a child is mentally capable of choosing to die

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The ruling Socialist party in Belgium has proposed a bill that would allow euthanasia for children.

Belgium legalized euthanasia for people over the age of 18 in 2002, and the number of cases per year has gone up about 600 percent from 2003 to 2012, the Associated Press reports. The Netherlands currently allows for euthanasia in specific circumstances for children over the age of 12 with parental consent.

Although the proposed legislation is being widely debated, with particular focus on the question of if a child is mentally capable of choosing to die, Brussels pediatric oncologist Gerlant van Berlaer told the AP that this new law would only legalize what doctors already do secretly.

“Today if these families find themselves [in that situation], we’re not able to help them except in dark and questionable ways,” he said.