MONTREAL — As Belgium legislators move forward with a proposed law to allow euthanasia for children, a 4-year-old girl from Canada is asking the king of Belgium to refuse to sign the legislation.
“Please do not sign the euthanasia law, for the sake of the children,” Jessica Saba says in a video appeal to King Philippe posted to YouTube. Within four days, the video had received more than 12,000 views.
Saba was born in Montreal in May 2009 with a severe heart deformity consisting of a completely blocked valve and an underdeveloped ventricle. She would likely have died after a few hours had she not undergone a series of heart operations at Montreal Children’s Hospital.
The surgeries were able to unblock Saba’s heart valve after six days, and her defective ventricle gradually began to develop.
The girl’s parents argue that if she had been born in a country that permitted the euthanasia of children, she could have been killed.
Legal euthanasia in Belgium began in 2002 for suffering patients of at least 18 years of age who are mentally sound and give their consent. In December 2013, the country recorded its first case of euthanasia for individuals who were not suffering from a terminal illness but were going blind.
The Belgian Senate recently passed a bill that would extend euthanasia to terminally ill children and dementia patients.
The government of Quebec, Canada, is currently considering its own law on euthanasia, similar to the original one adopted in Belgium more than a decade ago. The Quebec Human Rights Commission has recommended that euthanasia be expanded to include children.
Saba’s mother, Marisa, believes that such a euthanasia law could lead parents of sick or handicapped children to “give up too early.” What parents and their children need, she said, is to be surrounded by love and support for life, not euthanasia.
The young girl’s father, Dr. Paul Saba, has issued a personal appeal to the king of Belgium to reject the proposal to allow euthanasia for children in that country.
“There are millions of children born every year with congenital malformations,” he observes in the video.
Saba, a psychiatrist, said that with today’s palliative treatment, there is no need for patients to suffer, even at the end of their lives.
He also noted that if the practice is normalized in Belgium, there is a greater danger that it may spread to other countries.