The Telegraph reports that Belgium has authorized and completed the euthanasia of three children ages nine, 11, and 17.
According to The Telegraph these deaths took place in 2016 and 2017 via lethal injection and have just recently come to light because of the release of a report from the CFCEE; the commission that regulates euthanasia in Belgium.
Belgium is the only country in the world that offers euthanasia as an option for children dealing with terminal illnesses that cause, what the CFCEE deems, “unbearable suffering.”
According to The Telegraph, in 2014 Belgium amended its euthanasia law to make it legal for doctors to terminate the life of a child no matter how young the requestor. The only requirements are that the patient must be judged to have the mental capacity to make the weighty decision and that their parents’ consent.
The report that was released by the CFCEE on July 17, reportedly notes that thousands of people along with the three youth died from euthanasia between January 2016 and December 2017 in Belgium.
The Telegraph reports that Belgium’s clergy has spoken out on this issue saying the law is “a step too far.”
A professor and child cancer specialist, Professor Stefaan Van Gool responded to this news saying, “There is, in fact, no objective tool today available that really can help you say, ‘this child has the full competence or capacity to give with full understanding informed consent’.”
Some doctors, like neurologist Dr. Ludo Vanopdenbosch, have even resigned from their posts in protests of the euthanasia program. In 2017, Dr. Vanopdenbosch resigned from the CFCEE because a dementia patient’s life was ended via euthanasia without her prior consent.
According to The Telegraph, Dr. Vanopdenbosch’s resignation led to the signing of a petition by 360 Belgian doctors which called for stricter control on euthanasia with psychiatric patients.
Though the legislation has received some backlash it has also gained widespread backing and euthanasia is actually on the rise in Belgium. According to The Telegraph the annual number of euthanasia cases have multiplied five-fold in the last ten year.