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May 21, 2014

Pediatric Euthanasia in BelgiumDisturbing Developments

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 2Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 3Division of Medical Ethics, Langone Medical Center, New York University, New York
JAMA. 2014;311(19):1963-1964. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.4257

On February 13, 2014, Belgium’s Parliament approved an amendment of the 2002 Belgium Act on Euthanasia to allow euthanasia for chronically ill children. The amendment, supported by a majority of Belgians and recently signed into law by King Philippe, permits euthanasia for children who are experiencing “constant and unbearable suffering.” In addition to requiring the child’s own voluntary and explicit request for euthanasia, the new law requires parental consent, excludes children with an intellectual disability or mental illness, and mandates a multidisciplinary team carefully examine the child’s capacity for discernment.1

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