A Child’s Right to Choose?
After extensive debate and controversy, Belgium lawmakers made history with the recent decision
to remove age restrictions on euthanasia.
"Under the amendments to the country's 2002 euthanasia law, a child of any age can be helped to die, but only under strict conditions," according to TIME. "He or she must be terminally ill, close to death, and deemed to be suffering beyond any medical help. The child must be able to request euthanasia themselves and demonstrate they fully understand their choice. The request will then be assessed by teams of doctors, psychologists and other care-givers before a final decision is made with approval of the parents."
Euthanasia and assisted-suicide is already a heated topic of discussion around the world, but Belgium's recent decision adds a new dimension to the debate.
When is a child old enough to understand death? And, how involved should they be in the medical decisions surrounding it?
A 2009 study, published in Pediatrics, found that "adolescent cancer survivors, like other adolescents, want to be involved in medical decision-making at the end of life."
However, not all adults agree. A Belgian nurse, who spoke to TIME, "argued that minors may not have the mental capacity or the vocabulary for requesting to die."
Before the issue of age can be resolved we have to come to a decision about euthanasia in general. For the U.S., assisted suicide is still, for the most part, illegal. Only four states - Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Vermont- allow it.
Where do you stand on assisted suicide? Do you support a terminally-ill child's right to decide when their life ends?