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Child Euthanasia In Belgium Should Not Be Legal

2369 words - 10 pages

The word “euthanasia” comes from the Greek words “eu” meaning good or well and “thanatos” meaning death. Euthanasia means to take a deliberate action with the express intent of ending a life in order to relieve intractable suffering. Belgium has passed a law that allows euthanasia for terminally ill children experiencing “constant and unbearable suffering” who can show a “capacity of discernment”. This has sparked many debates about whether child euthanasia is moral and whether it should be legal or not. Although child euthanasia is a way for a child to escape “constant and unbearable” suffering or to avoid suffering through a terminal illness, child euthanasia should not be legal because children do not possess the mental capacity to make a request for such an irreversible decision, a child may choose to die because they fear that they are burdening others, and the requirements in place to request euthanasia may not be sufficient enough to protect against misuse.
There are multiple types of euthanasia. The two main classifications are voluntary euthanasia and involuntary euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is conducted with legal consent and is legal in Belgium. Involuntary euthanasia is conducted without consent - the decision is made by another person when the patient is incapable of making the decision for himself. There are also two main procedural classifications, which are passive and active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia is the act of withholding life-sustaining treatments from the patient to cause them to die. Active euthanasia is carried out by using lethal substances or forces to end a patient's life - this includes actions conducted by the patient or someone else (Nordqvist). Physician assisted suicide, another types of euthanasia, is the act of taking one’s own life purposely, with the aid of a physician (McDougall). In Belgium, euthanasia is typically performed by a physician, who gives the patient an overdose of muscle relaxants or sedatives. This causes a coma followed by death (Braw). In the U.S. passive euthanasia is practiced in accordance with an advance directive from a patient, such as a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) (Pawlick and DiLascio). Assisted suicide is now being advanced as an acceptable way of lawfully ending the lives of those in intolerable pain or suffering (Griffith).
Euthanasia can be traced back in history to times before the birth of Christ. The Hippocratic Oath is an oath taken by physicians and other healthcare providers in which they swear to practice medicine honestly. The original oath states “To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death.” Thus, it is apparent that euthanasia was also prevalent very long ago because Hippocrates saw it as being important enough to include in the Hippocratic Oath. Despite the Hippocratic Oath, ancient Greeks and Romans were not strong supporters for preserving life at any cost, they tolerated suicide when there was no way to...

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