Belgium minor first to be granted euthanasia

Source: BBC

A terminally-ill 17-year-old has become the first minor to be helped to die in Belgium since age restrictions on euthanasia requests were removed two years ago, officials say.

The head of the federal euthanasia commission said the teenager was “suffering unbearable physical pain”.

Belgium is the only country that allows minors of any age to choose euthanasia.

They must have rational decision-making capacity and be in the final stages of a terminal illness.

The parents of the under-18 year olds must also give their consent.

Euthanasia commission head Wim Distelmans said the teenager was “nearly 18”. He said doctors used “palliative sedation”, which involves bringing patients into an induced coma, as part of the process,

“Fortunately there are very few children who are considered [for euthanasia] but that does not mean we should refuse them the right to a dignified death,” he told the Het Nieuwsblad newspaper.

Mr Distelmans told Reuters news agency the case had been reported to his committee by a local doctor last week.

The case occurred in Flemish-speaking Belgium, reports RTBF (in French), the public broadcaster for Belgium’s French-speaking community.

The Netherlands also allows euthanasia for minors, but they must be aged over 12 years old.

Belgium lifted the age restrictions in 2014. The law passed by parliament said the child would have to be terminally ill, face “unbearable physical suffering” and make repeated requests to die before euthanasia is considered.

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