A Child Was Euthanized in Belgium for 1st Time

The 17-year-old was in 'unbearable physical pain'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2016 2:58 PM CDT
Belgium Euthanizes 1st Child Since Legalizing It in 2014
   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

A child has been euthanized in Belgium for the first time since the country became the first to eliminate age restrictions for euthanasia two years ago, CNN reports. According to the BBC, the 17-year-old had an incurable disease, was in "unbearable physical pain," and requested euthanasia, as the law requires; "palliative sedation" was employed. No other information was provided, and Deutsche Welle reports the records outlining the patient's condition and the deliberation of the panel of physicians who weigh in are generally sealed. The teen's death, which had occurred in the past week, was announced Saturday, Reuters reports. The AFP cites a member of Belgium's federal euthanasia commission as saying the teen was not the first child to request euthanasia.

Belgium legalized euthanasia for people with "constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated" in 2002. It expanded its euthanasia law to cover all children under the age of 18 in 2014. In order to be euthanized, children must be able to understand what it means and get consent from their parent or guardian and "death must be expected in the near future." Belgium is the only country in the world that allows euthanasia without age restriction, and a study published this month found 1,807 total euthanasia deaths were reported in 2013, up nearly eight-fold from 235 in 2003. Reuters reports the 2013 figure represents 1.7% of deaths in the country that year. The Netherlands allows it for children older than 12. (This depressed 24-year-old was granted the right to die.)

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