Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Belgian Senate Votes To Allow Euthanasia For Children

 רשב"ל אומר כל מי שנעשה רחמן במקום אכזרי סוף  שנעשה אכזרי במקום רחמן קהלת רבה

 Can this new law be used to "silence" children who know too much?  How much money will a "terminal illness" cost?  (Robert Adler) (read last piece on the bottom for an example by an adult)

  As we already saw recent studies about Belgium's euthanasia found that: 32% of the assisted deaths are done without request and 47% of the assisted deaths go unreported in the Flanders region of Belgium

The study that found that 32% of the assisted deaths are done without request, indicated that the people who died by euthanasia without request were usually: incompetent, did not have cancer, were over the age of 80, and living in a hospital. The same study indicated that these deaths represented “a vulnerable patient group.”
Further to that doctors who admit to not reporting assisted deaths usually do not follow the guidelines of the Belgian law. A recent study found that 73.1 % of the reported assisted deaths followed the guidelines while only 12.3% of the unreported assisted deaths followed the euthanasia guidelines in the Belgian law.
(to read what we posted when this law was first proposed)

from a

 There were 1,133 cases of euthanasia recorded in Belgium in 2011, accounting for about 1 percent of the country's deaths that year, according to AFP

"We mark out opposition to this extension and express our trepidation in the face of the risk of a growing trivialization of such a grave reality," leaders of Belgium's Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities.

"A child cannot buy a house in Belgium. A child cannot buy alcohol in Belgium. And this law would allow a child to ask to be killed. And that is a real problem," Carine Brochier of the European Institute of Bioethics in Brussels told DW earlier.

From Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

 from a recent study in the Journal of Medical Ethics showing that a strong minority of Dutch are in favor of euthanasia even if the person is healthy

BRUSSELS — Belgium took a big step on Thursday to becoming the first country to allow euthanasia for incurably ill children, after the upper house of Parliament voted by a large majority to extend to minors a 2002 law legalizing the practice for adults.
Under the amended law, euthanasia would become legal for children afflicted with “constant and unbearable physical suffering” and "equipped" “with a capacity of discernment.” During a sometimes heated public debate in the run-up to the vote, religious leaders condemned the move as entering “a logic that leads to the destruction of society’s foundations.” 

Philippe Mahoux, a Socialist Party senator and sponsor of the legislation, described giving terminally ill children the right to “die in dignity” as the “ultimate gesture of humanity.” He dismissed the religious leaders’ criticism, saying it was unrepresentative of the views of many ordinary believers, who he said supported the legal change. 

He said the legislation did not seek to define death — “that is for theologians and philosophers” — but to allow young people, with the assent of their parents, to choose the manner of their dying in the event of terminal illness and "intolerable" physical pain. 

Although Europe is generally far more accepting of euthanasia or assisted suicide than the United States, only a handful of countries have formally legalized medical interventions to cause death. Luxembourg permits euthanasia for adults, and Switzerland allows doctors to help patients die but not to actively kill them. The Netherlands allows euthanasia in special cases for gravely ill patients 12 or older

But Belgium — where adult euthanasia cases already number around 1,000 a year and rising every year — is the first country to propose lifting all age restrictions. 

Fifty of the 71 members of the Belgian Senate voted for the measure on Thursday. Just 17, mostly from the conservative, and traditionally Catholic, Christian Democrats, voted against. Four did not vote. 

Before becoming law, the changes must be voted on by the Parliament’s lower house, which is expected to take up the matter before elections in May. The measure seems likely to pass, and would put Belgium in a separate category from almost any other nation when it comes to allowing the terminally ill to choose to die.
The idea of euthanasia for children has been taboo in most countries, not only for religious reasons but also because of the horrors of Nazi Germany, which killed thousands of mentally and physically handicapped children under a program known as Kinder Euthanasie. 

Mr. Mahoux said in an interview before the vote that euthanasia for terminally ill children was already practiced on occasion in some Belgian hospitals and that the law would not lead to a surge in medically accelerated death among sick children but would save doctors from potential criminal prosecution.
The amended law extending the “right to die” to children mandates that euthanasia can be carried out only at the "demand" of a patient and that such a request be “voluntary, considered and repeated and not the result of external pressure.” 

Unlike adults, children would not be allowed to choose death on the grounds of “psychological suffering” but only when there was no hope of recovery from an illness that involves extreme physical pain. Parents must give their approval in writing. 

Religious groups, however, view Belgium’s efforts to extend its already contentious 2002 law to children as a dangerous erosion of moral barriers protecting the sanctity of life. “We mark out opposition to this extension and express our trepidation in the face of the risk of a growing trivialization of such a grave reality,” the leaders of Belgium’s Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities said in a statement. 

During a debate in the Senate on Thursday that included some angry exchanges, members of the Christian Democrats denounced the changes as open to abuse and fraught with peril. read the top and look at the links

Els Van Hoof, a Christian Democrat from Belgium’s Dutch-speaking community, argued that paying more attention to relieving the pain of patients instead of allowing doctors to legally kill them would “allow both old and young to die with dignity.” A 10-year-old, she said, is not in a position to make a life-or-death decision “in an autonomous manner” and will invariably be vulnerable to pressure.

Mr. Mahoux, who is a former surgeon, said “it is particularly painful to touch on the issue of death” for children, “but what is scandalous, in the primary meaning of the term, is first of all the illness of minors, incurable illness, their unappeasable suffering, and not their will to want and to be able to put an end to it.” 

Although often bitterly divided by language, senators from both French- and Dutch-speaking communities voted strongly in favor of the amended law. 

Belgium, which is mostly Roman Catholic by tradition but now largely secular in practice, has been far more open to the idea of euthanasia than similarly secular countries like Britain, where Parliament has rejected efforts to legalize assisted suicide. Belgium’s 2002 law gave adults the right to die in the event of “unbearable psychological or physical suffering,” a provision that widened the scope beyond just those suffering from painful terminal illnesses. 

This year, a 44-year-old Belgian requested and received a lethal injection after a botched sex change operation to become a man. The procedure was carried out by a Brussels doctor who had earlier overseen the euthanasia of congenitally deaf twins who feared they were going blind. 

Despite the occasional scandal, however, the public backs extending euthanasia to gravely ill minors, according to a study conducted for La Libre, a Belgian paper, and RTBF (Radio Television Belge Francophone). About three-quarters of those questioned said they supported the move. 

A group of pediatricians also issued an open letter championing the rights of children to choose their own fate. 

“Experience has taught us that in cases of serious illness and imminent death, minors develop a great maturity very rapidly, to the point where they are sometimes more able to reflect on life and express themselves than adults in good health,” said the letter. 
(NY Times) highlights our additions

The pending law will inevitably add fuel to the Quebec euthanasia debate, where government-led efforts to legalized assisted dying have been closely influenced by the Belgian example.

The bill first obtained approval from a Senate committee in November, then passed the Senate with the backing of the country’s socialists, liberals, greens and Flemish separatists. Only two Christian Democrat parties and the far-right Vlaams Belang opposed it.

“They sometimes say that age limits are arbitrary, but trying to judge whether a minor is able to make such a decision is even more arbitrary,” Els Van Hoof, a Flemish Christian Democratic senator, said in November.
Assisted suicide — where the doctor prescribes lethal medication, instead of administering it himself — is still illegal.

In January, deaf twins Marc and Eddy Verbessem, 25, successfully obtained doctor-administered euthanization after learning they were about to go blind, although they were not suffering from a terminal medical condition.

The Quebec National Assembly is conducting a committee study of Bill 52, which would legalize “medical aid in dying.”

The Netherlands allows euthanasia for children as young as 12. Supporters of the Belgian bill say only one Dutch child under age 13 has successfully obtained a legal euthanization.

The Belgian bill is expected to pass easily and become law, although proponents are urging deputies to rush the legislation through before Belgium’s spring legislative elections.

“We want this law to be definitively voted on before the dissolution of parliament,” socialist deputy Karine Lalieux told Agence France-Presse.
(National Post)

Dr. Kenneth Chambarae, who is part of the end-of-life research group at Brussels' Free University, specializing in the impact of legalized euthanasia, said the bill explicitly states that it would be possible only for competent minors suffering unbearable physical pain from a serious physical illness without prospect of improvement to request euthanasia. This is different from adults, who can also request it if they are suffering psychologically.
Chambarae argues the debate in Belgium is more one of principle than anything else -- that very few children would ever choose euthanasia but that the law now "discriminates" against them.
As many as half of the euthinizations in Belgium may not even be reported.

There are also accusations of psychiatrists abusing patients and pushing them to euthanasia to cover their malpractice. At least one case has surfaced where the psychiatrist was sexually abusing a patient who resorted to euthanasia. In another case, a pair of deaf, but otherwise healthy twins chose to commit suicide because one of them was possibly going blind and neither wanted to be blind or separated.

No comments:

Post a Comment