The Belgian case of euthanasia for children, solution or problem?

Filipa Martins Silva Rui Nunes About the authors

Abstract

By extending its euthanasia law to minors in 2014, Belgium has fuelled the international debate on this issue. In fact, Medicine does not always have something to offer when it comes to a child’s serious disease. Nevertheless, should euthanasia be considered a viable solution? Keeping in mind the Belgian reality, this article analyses the relevance of the new law, considering, on one hand, children’s growing self-determination capacity and, on the other hand, their lack of “life experience”. Let’s not forget, in addition, classical arguments against euthanasia, such as the disrespect for the value of human life and the eventual approaching of the slippery slope. An obvious solution for this problem is the implementation of a proper palliative care system. However, evidence about the quality of pediatric end-of-life care is scarce. Therefore, additional investigation is necessary in order to formulate and propose an appropriate public policy on the matter.

Euthanasia; Child; Belgium; Palliative care

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