The Belgian Senate voted today 50-17 to extend euthanasia to children with disabilities, in a move pro-life advocates worldwide had been fearing would come and expand an already much-abused euthanasia law even further.
Of the 17 who voted against the bill, the majority were from the Christian Democrats, a traditionally Catholic political party.
The vote today in the full Senate comes after a Senate committee voted 13-4 to allow minors to seek euthanasia under certain conditions and the measure also would extend the right to request euthanasia to adults with dementia. No age limit would be set, but the children who are euthanized would have “to possess the capacity of discernment.”
Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002 but has, since its enactment, been prohibited for patients under 18. While euthanasia is legal in a handful of countries in Europe, Belgium is the first country in the world to lift all age restrictions on the practice. In 2012, Belgium recorded 1,432 cases of euthanasia – a 25% increase from 2011.