The good folks of Belgium have some 'splaining to do. It seems that, on Friday, the government officials in the Senate in Belgium voted 50-17 to extend euthanasia to children with disabilities. I can't tell you how many different emotions went through me before I finally started seeing RED!
The country of Belgium already has one of the must broad euthanasia laws for adults and there are many watch dog organizations that scream that it is constantly abused. The House of Representatives in Belgium still has a chance to vote the expansion of the euthanasia law down, but pundits don't hold out much hope of that happening.
Anyone that can look in the face of an innocent and willingly and knowingly cause them harm, has little humanity within them.
It is one thing to extend such a law to an adult who is fully capable and mature enough to weigh all of his or her medical options and make an informed decision about euthanasia. It is quite another to tell a doctor it is OK for the doctor, not the parents or legal guardian, to decide which child they will treat and which child they will deny treatment and/or offer euthanasia without the child fully being able to comprehend what is taking place.
Better still, I can only imagine the horror young parents potentially could be facing at the prospect of their precious child being euthanized because he or she wasn't deemed to be medically “perfect” by the state. While doctors are given the gift of healing, no doctor should have the power to play God and decide who lives and who dies. There is one statement in the Hippocratic oath that reads, “I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.”
I can think of no greater harm than to euthanize a young child simply because he or she may have a deformity to a limb or a speech impediment.
Whatever happened to the “utmost respect for human life” that was added to the oath in the 1960s?
While it is true that many European physicians don't swear an oath upon graduation from medical school, according to Wikipedia, it still begs the question, why become a physician, if you are not interested in healing those in need?
Every life is precious, lest we forget that we are all human and none of us is truly perfect. To me, there is no more precious a life than that of a small child or defenseless infant — for they are truly innocent.
Not only are political pundits concerned about potential abuse of the law, if enacted, they are also concerned about doctors abusing the euthanasia law in order to cover up incidences of medical malpractice.
As if that idea isn't bad enough, there are alleged to be documented incidents where adults are already being euthanized who suffer with depression and dementia. Both are illnesses which have long ago been proven to be very treatable with the proper combination of medication and counseling methods.
We can only hope that the Belgium House of Representatives members will exercise some restraint before adopting such a drastic change in the law.
After all, who wants to revisit the atrocities of World War II, which is exactly what many human rights organizations have been comparing it against.
The world is horrified as news of this development spreads. The world is watching and holding its collective breath for those precious little ones who can't speak for themselves.
—Erin Smith is a staff writer for the Bladen Journal. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 910-862-4163 or follow her on twitter @ErynnSmith.