By John-Henry Westen

BRUSSELS, March 26, 2008 ( – The Leader of the Belgium Liberals, the primary Party in the Belgian coalition Government, has called for legal euthanasia to be permitted for teens and children. The 2002 law which permitted euthanasia on newborns and terminally ill patients suffering “constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain” currently restricts euthanasia to newborns and those over 18 years of age.

Bart Tommelein, Leader of Belgium Liberals, said his Party would seek approval for measures to extend euthanasia to teens and elderly disabled with dementia and thus unable to decide for themselves to be euthanized. The development is no surprise to anti-euthanasia activists who have long warned that any allowance for so-called voluntary euthanasia would lead to involuntary euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition commented on the latest development in Belgium saying:

“Once a society has accepted the killing of one group of people for a set of circumstances then what will stop that society from accepting the killing of all groups of people for similar circumstances”.

“The only factors that will hold the Belgium government back from making euthanasia more widely available is the ability of a person to consent to their death, and how far do they wish to extend the concept of suffering? But when did euthanasia or assisted suicide have anything to do with consent? It is about having the right to ‘choose’ to end your life, or giving someone else the right to kill you when you would have “rationally chosen” to do so”.

“If people with a certain condition have the right to end ‘suffering’ through euthanasia, then why would it be wrong to end the suffering for someone in a similar condition who cannot consent? In fact consent only stands in the way of providing “release of suffering” that may someday be seen as a human right”.

“The issue of suffering also relates to infant euthanasia. The problem is that it is difficult to access to what degree an infant is suffering. But why let current suffering be the criteria, when an infant with disabilities is bound to suffer in the future. Why not end a life to pre-empt the child from suffering.

“In the recent review of the Groningen Protocol by Lindemann and Verkerk in the Hastings Center Report – Jan/Feb 2008 the authors refer to the Groningen Protocol as allowing euthanasia based on the idea of future suffering. The authors state: ‘The protocol thus leaves room for cases in which the suffering will take place in the future. This forward-thinking feature of the protocol is justified on the grounds that it is inhumane to keep a baby alive until it begins to experience intolerable suffering.’

“Remember, the issue of euthanasia is not about terminal illness, it is not about individual autonomy, it is not about suffering. It is about ending life based on individual autonomy or ending lives that are not worth living.

“In other words. You can’t have a little bit of euthanasia because if it is deemed to be a “good action” then why wouldn’t it be ‘good’ for everyone.”