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Belgium set to allow euthanasia for children despite opposition

Published on Feb 12, 2014 10:12 AM

BRUSSELS (AFP) - More than a decade after legalising euthanasia for adults, Belgium is set this week to extend mercy-killing to terminally-ill children after lengthy public debate over the ethical issues at stake.

Despite strong opposition from the Church and even some pediatricians, a bill allowing euthanasia for minors facing "unbearable physical suffering" goes up for debate in parliament's lower house on Wednesday, before being put to a vote the following day.

If adopted as widely expected, the legislation will make Belgium only the second country after the Netherlands to allow incurably sick children to seek to end their lives.

While the Dutch law, the world's first euthanasia bill, enables mercy-killing in special cases for gravely ill patients 12 years or older, Belgium will be the first nation to lift all age restrictions.

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