Belgium is set to debate this week whether or not it will extend its laws allowing euthanasia to include children and those suffering from long-term “diseases of the brain” like Alzheimer’s.
The country already has some of the most relaxed rules in the world when it comes to helping people who are suffering to take their own lives, and lawmakers could be about to push those boundaries even further.
Since 2002, any adult in Belgium who is signed off by two doctors as undergoing “unbearable psychological or physical suffering” can consent to be killed, most commonly by an injection of a lethal combination of drugs. Assisted suicides reportedly now account for around 1 per cent of all deaths.
Under the bill being considered, this could be extended to those under 18 if they requested it, their parents gave their consent, and where an expert psychologist deemed the child to fully understand the implications of their decision.