A campaign to petition King Philippe of Belgium not to sign a new bill extending euthanasia to children into law is rapidly gaining signatures.
The petition can be found here, on the website Citizen Go. Organisers hope to obtain at least 50,000 signatures.
Belgium’s new law, passed yesterday by 86-44 votes in country's lower house, allows doctors to kill children under the age of 18 who are terminally ill and suffer from severe pain without any prospect of relief. The decision to kill a child must be approved by the parents and the physicians in care. It is further necessary that the young patient is aware of the situation and understands what euthanasia means.
The new legislation has attracted widespread condemnation, uniting all of Belgium's religious leaders in opposing the move.
They warned the measure risks “destroying the functioning of society”.
“We are also opposed to suffering, whether physical or moral, and especially the suffering of children,” Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, president of Belgium’s bishops conference, said in a joint statement with Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in November.
“But to suggest minors can decide on their own euthanasia is to falsify their power of judgment and their freedom,” they added. “To suggest persons with dementia can also be euthanized is to deny their dignity and hand them over to the arbitrary judgment of decision-makers.”
Msgr. Renzo Pegoraro, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told the Register in December that the legislation is a "perversion of mercy" that will have "very dangerous consequences."
In theory, the King can refuse his signature, but this is very uncommon and could stir up heated debates, Gudrun Kugler writes on the Citizens Go website. But she argues that this puts King Philippe “in a position to make the strongest possible case for the dignity of every human person.”
“His uncle, King Baudouin, had heroically not consented to a liberalisation of abortion in 1990,” Kugler says.