Note: I don’t like to comment on the internal affairs of other countries – not least because our newspapers are notoriously filled with inaccuracies and plain lies. However, if this Belgian law is as described, it strikes me as astonishingly evil in itself, and it will be made an argument against my own belief in the right of adults to ask others to help them commit suicide. SIG
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child…
One hesitates to use the word ‘evil’ of statutes promulgated by well-intentioned politicians in the context of a liberal democracy, with all the constitutional checks and balances afforded by reason and experience. But Belgium’s proposal to abolish all age restrictions on “the right to die” must surely qualify as one of the most wicked and damnable decrees in the history of Christendom.
Of course the Belgian Parliament insists that only incurable terminally-ill children in great pain will have this right, and they may very well point to the Netherlands where children from the age of 12 may already determine when and how they die. But Belgium is the first country in the world to remove age restrictions altogether. Can six-year-old children really grasp the enormity of ending their lives? Is not a journey to the undiscovered country just an awfully big adventure, where one may soar through the sky with Peter Pan, frolick in the snow with Father Christmas or live happily ever after with My Little Pony?
The proposal has passed through the Belgian Senate and has the blessing of its justice committee. There appears to be an alliance of the liberal-left and Greens contra those on the right and the Roman Catholic Church. In our ever-enlightening European Union, we know how these battles usually end. All that will remain for the Bill to become legal is the signature of King Philippe, a Roman Catholic of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. This is deemed to be a constitutional formality: it remains to be seen how nominal his faith is; how he balances his conscience with the official teaching of the Magisterium.
Proponents insist that the minor’s right to die will be hemmed in with the strictest of conditions. And the Bill does clearly state that the child must “be in a hopeless medical situation of constant and unbearable suffering that cannot be eased and which will cause death in the short-term”. So that’s very clear. And obviously the child can’t opt to die unless there is parent approval. So that’s even better.
But it won’t be long before “hopeless medical condition” is expanded to include those illnesses which offer the remotest glimmer of hope; and it is inevitable that “constant unbearable suffering” will eventually embrace psychiatric disorders and mental issues. And what happens in those cases where the parents disagree about the extent of their child’s, and what if they happen to be separated or divorced? And what about friends, guardians or grandparents?
Is it just be conceivable that two parents, overwhelmed by grief and the burdens of care, under huge stress and at the end of their ability to cope, might persuade their child that it’s just better to be with Jesus?
The Bill stipulates that the child must evidence “a capacity of discernment and be conscious at the moment of the request”.
What discernment do children possess? Do they not speak, understand and think as children? How can a suffering child make an objective judgment about the termination of life when we don’t even permit them to vote, smoke or buy alcohol? Who subjectively assesses this capacity for discernment? Who objectively assesses their subjectivity?
The quest for euthanasia – aka “Assisted Suicide” or “Aid in Dying” – is being driven by social emotivism. There is a certain logic to it: conclusions about death do indeed follow from the premises of life. But premises which invoke rights can be at odds with those which invoke universalisability: one cannot pursue both equality and liberty, and our post-Christian relativist culture offers no agreed way of interpreting moral argument or mediating between rival premises. And so the shrill rights of the child must necessarily include the right to die because they have the right to live.
Except that we legally slaughter our babies in the womb by the barrel load, and that is a choice of death we make on their behalf. So how can we logically deny children – identifiable individuals – the right to decide death for themselves?