Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Belgium Considers Euthanasia for Children

Belgium considers euthanasia for children
Wed September 08, 2004 10:08 AM ET

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian lawmakers belonging to Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt's ruling Flemish Liberal party have introduced a bill seeking to expand the country's controversial euthanasia legislation to include minors.

Senators Jeannine Leduc and Paul Wille said in the bill that terminally ill children and teenagers had as much right to choose when they wanted to die as anyone else.

"Their suffering is as great (and) the situation they face is as intolerable and inhumane," the senators' bill read on Wednesday.

A controversial law decriminalising euthanasia came into force in Belgium in September 2002.

Patients wishing to end their lives must be conscious when the application is made and repeat their request for euthanasia. Their doctor must fill in a form and consult another physician before making a final decision.

Wille and Leduc now also want to include "assisted suicide" in the current legislation as they feel patients often want to end their lives themselves.