Belgium Euthanized Three Children, Hundreds Dealing With Conditions Common to Aging, in 2016-2017

< – July 29, 2018

BRUSSELS — A new report out of Belgium shows that among the 4,337 Belgians who opted to die by euthanasia in 2016-2017, three were ill children, and hundreds of other cases were listed as “polypathology,” or the suffrage of a combination of health issues commonly related to aging, such as blindness, hearing loss, incontinence, dementia and heart and lung diseases.

Belgium’s Federal Commission for Euthanasia Control and Evaluation recently released a report analyzing the euthanasia cases over the time period, which shows that the number of people choosing to take death into their own hands continues to rise in the country.

In 2016, 2,028 died by physician-assisted suicide, and in 2017, 2,309 ended their lives—a year-to-year increase of almost 14 percent.

Euthanasia was first legalized in Belgium in 2002, and in 2014, lawmakers decided to remove age restrictions, thus allowing terminally ill children to request to die.

“In the beginning, they presented a law that included mentally ill children,” Belgian Senator Els Van Hoof told reporters at the time. “During the debate, supporters of euthanasia talked about children with anorexia, children who are tired of life—so how far does it go?”