Children are being euthanized in Belgium

Deliberately taking a small child’s life is unlawful everywhere in the world, even when the child is terminally ill and asks a doctor to end his or her suffering once and for all.

There is an exception to this rule: Belgium. In 2014, that country amended its law on euthanasia, already one of the most permissive in the world, authorizing doctors to terminate the life of a child, at any age, who makes the request.

For a year after the law passed, no one acted on it. Now, however, euthanasia for children in Belgium is no longer just a theoretical possibility.

Between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017, Belgian physicians gave lethal injections to three children under 18, according to a July 17 report from the commission that regulates euthanasia in Belgium.

The oldest of the three was 17; in that respect, Belgium was not unique, since the Netherlands permits euthanasia for children over 12.

Belgian doctors, however, also ended the lives of a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old. These were the first under-12 cases anywhere, Luc Proot, a member of the Belgian commission, told me in an interview.

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