Belgium reports first case of euthanasia for a minor

brusselBRUSSELS: A minor has been euthanized in Belgium in what is the first application of rules adopted by the country in 2014 allowing doctor-assisted death for children of all ages, the head of the national committee for euthanasia said on Saturday.

Wim Distelmans, who chairs Belgium’s Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia, said in an emailed statement that the first case was reported to his committee by a local doctor last week.

The underage person was reported as being critically ill but no other information was given.

Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002, and two years ago amended the rules to permit doctor-assisted death for minors in a hopeless medical situation.

It is the only country in the world allowing euthanasia on minors of all ages. In the neighboring Netherlands the practice is possible for children aged at least 12.

Between 2003 and 2013, the number of patients being euthanized in Belgium rose nearly eight-fold to a total number of 8,752 cases, according to records of the national euthanasia control committee.