Belgium Legalizes Medicalized Killing of Children

It's hardly news that Europe is ground zero for the moral catastrophe of pro-death madness.  Hundreds have traveled to Swiss death clinic Dignitas, where they are put to death, at their request, by assisted suicide.  Luxembourg thinks killing via euthanasia and assisted suicide is just dandy, as do the Dutch.  In 2002, Belgium followed this hellish contagion.

The pro-death story in each of these countries has been the same: legal, medicalized killing supposedly for a very few under very specific circumstances, followed by the expansion of killing to categories of people who were never, ever defined under the law as being eligible for death.  The unsurprising result has been unregulated killing, people being killed who never requested euthanasia, "regulatory" panels stacked with pro-death zealots, and skyrocketing body counts everywhere.  Even less surprising, the availability of death on demand has bent the public will to acceptance of this grisly business.  Recent polls in the Netherlands, for instance, have shown that about three quarters of the public now support assisted suicide and euthanasia for just about any reason, including requests from those who are "tired of living."

There is, however, one part of this macabre drumbeat for death on demand at any time, anywhere, for any reason that has been held somewhat in check: the age of the person requesting medical killing.  Until recently, even the most virulent pro-deathers have been careful to emphasize that death requests should be made by adults -- that is, those 18 years and older.

But that is changing.  For instance, over the last several years, Scottish MP Margo MacDonald has repeatedly introduced parliamentary bills to legalize euthanasia for children, even though Scotland has no laws sanctioning either assisted suicide or euthanasia for anyone.  And the Netherlands, tripping down the slippery slope, now allows assisted suicide or euthanasia for children and youths between 12 and 16, as long as their parents agree.  Also in the Netherlands, the infamous Groningen Protocol is a medical and legal road map for killing disabled newborns.

Now Belgium has broken the final age barrier.  Late last year, Belgium's Upper House voted 50-17 for legalizing child-killing.  Last week, the Chamber of Representatives voted 86-44 to legalize, making the bill law contingent upon the signature of Belgium's King Philippe, a largely ceremonial gesture that will not impede the law's implementation.  While there was some opposition to the bill, it was weak at best.  Belgian public opinion has been largely supportive.

In this regard, perhaps the most telling piece of information emerging from the legalization was the general consternation among the Belgian public and media about the international backlash to the whole idea of doctors killing children after they have asked to die and have been aided and abetted in their march to death by their parents' consent for the killing.

So there you have it -- children in Belgium now have the "right" to ask for their own deaths, and doctors are now legally sanctioned to kill children under the guise of helping to alleviate their suffering.  "Humane" killing medicine, if you will.

One reason the Belgian pro-deathers got their way is because they control the language of the debate.  Medicalized killing is window-dressed as "compassionate," "strictly regulated," "a human right," "progressive ethics," "accepted medical best practice," or "the right thing to do."

A smokescreen, all of it.

Here's what the pro-deathers really want: to eradicate those who are imperfect, to destroy those whose suffering offends their sense of decorum, and to impose the reprehensible iron will that people in positions of power (doctors, nurses, ethicists, sympathetic politicians) know what's best for the rest of us -- especially killing us for our own good.  It's particularly the doctors who agree to this nonsense that should be held the most accountable, because it is they who are charged with doing the actual killing.  The ultimate doctor power.

Doctor power -- the notion that doctors are medical experts whose knowledge and skill places them in the rarified atmosphere of lording it over our existence as we naively and compliantly trust them with our lives.  I think it's time to revisit what we think of doctors, and whether, in some cases, they actually believe in doing no harm.


Because we've see this all before.

It was Viktor Brack, the creator of the Nazi euthanasia program, Aktion-T4, which targeted Germans with disabilities, who reminded his charges that doctor power was absolute and indisputable when it came to killing "defectives."  "Remember," he was fond of saying, "the needle belongs in the hand of the doctor."

Indeed, there are now many Viktor Bracks roaming the hospital halls of the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium.  White-coated, sincerely hell-bent on killing the least among us, coldly hiding behind their procedural "safeguards" and muttering, "It's for the best," they sow the same terrible harvest as their National Socialist counterparts did in the 1930s and 1940s.

The lyrics are different, but the deathly dirge is the same.

Mark P. Mostert, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Disability in the Public Square at the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.

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