Terminally ill children in Belgium can request to be put to death under legislation approved by the nation's lawmakers today, reports the BBC. Belgium already has a law that makes euthanasia legal for adults, and today's action removes any age restrictions. It's the first country to do so, though the Netherlands allows euthanasia for kids as young as 12, notes Reuters. The rules set out a number of restrictions: The request must come from a child with a terminal illness who is enduring "constant and unbearable physical suffering," and parents, doctors, and psychologists must support the request. (The AP lays out the specific steps here.)
Supporters say it's the humane thing to do, while critics say kids aren't capable of making that kind of a decision. Two competing quotes from today:
- Pro: "This is not about lethal injections for children," says one of the backing lawmakers. "This is about terminally ill children, whose death is imminent and who suffer greatly. There are clear checks and balances to prevent abuse."
- Con: "Assassins!" yelled a spectator from the gallery as the vote unfolded.