Euthanasia: useful or unworthy?

A nurse puts a respiratory mask on a baby in Brussels on November 25, 2013. In Brussels, Euthanasia is legal for children as well as adults. The baby in the photo had a birth defect. Photo Courtesy: MCT Photo
A nurse puts a respiratory mask on a baby in Brussels on November 25, 2013. In Brussels, Euthanasia is legal for children as well as adults. The baby in the photo had a birth defect. Photo Courtesy: MCT Photo

Euthanasia is “the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma”. It is basically mercy killing or assisted suicide. This act is now legal in five countries:

  1. Belgium
  2. Luxembourg
  3. Oregon
  4. Washington
  5. The Netherlands

This Wednesday, Nov. 22, Belgium proposed a bill that would request to euthanize children suffering from terminal illnesses and adults with dementia.

“I think that just because you are disabled or elderly, you should never have to be told that your life is not worth living,” said Isabelle Jimenez, 9.

Belgium had already passed legislation in 2002 allowing voluntary euthanasia for adults. Children over 12 that live in the Netherlands, can request euthanasia with their parents consent. Since 2002, only five children have chosen to die through euthanasia.

“I think it’s sad that some people are at such a bad point in their lives they feel like their only escape is death. With the rest of their lives to live, though it seems to them dying is the better option,” said Sarita Evans, 9.

There are many reasons this act is not safe and also illegal:

  • Nearly half (47%) of euthanasia deaths are not reported (according to a study in Flanders in 2007)
  • Doctors should be the ones to carry out euthanasia deaths but according to a 2007 study, nurses are doing them
  • Some euthanasia deaths are carried out with out consent (according to a 2007 study in Flanders)

Dr. Jan Bernheim, a leading promoter of euthanasia, admitted that there are problems with Belgium’s euthanasia law. But despite its “imperfections” he still believes it should be extended to children.

Bernheim argued euthanasia was necessary to remove suffering: yet pain is hardly ever the reason for seeking euthanasia. In fact, any palliative care specialist will say no one should ever be in intolerable pain.

“Everyone should have the chance to receive help and everyone should feel that they have an opportunity to live their lives and find happiness. Suicide and euthanasia should never be the answer,” said Ali Richter, 10.