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European Journal

Belgium: Assisted Suicide for Minors

In Belgium, euthanasia for the terminally-ill has been legal for 11 years -- but not for those under the age of 18. Now the country's upper house of parliament, the Senate, has voted in favor of decriminalizing assisted suicide for minors as well.

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In May, the Belgian parliament must decide whether to approve the bill which would give Belgium the most liberal laws on euthanasia in all of Europe. Terminally-ill young people could then ask doctors to help them end their lives. It has yet to be decided just how old a child will have to be in order to make this decision. Many well-known pediatricians lobbied for the law after being confronted with repeated requests from children to help them die. But Belgium's religious community is against euthanasia for children and those most directly affected -- such as parents and caregivers -- also have big reservations.