It’s now the law in Belgium, that terminally sick children of any age can be officially killed when they are suffering from incurable diseases and repeatedly request to be killed. But opponents say that it’s a license to kill and a way for some unloving parents to get rid of an embarrassing and bothersome, sick, impaired, disabled children if they can persuade doctors to approve. It opens the door to incredible abuse. Euthanasia or mercy killing is totally against Catholic teaching. The right to life and its enhancement and sacredness is of the highest value.
But euthanasia has been legal in The Netherlands for adults and children over 12 for the past twelve years. Belgium and Switzerland have legalized euthanasia for many years but for people over the age of 18 only. Belgium has now gone further than any nation with this new law. The legislators and their supporters believe they are being most civilized and humane. But where will it lead? What’s next?
Many human rights advocates oppose the so called "right to die" legislation for children of any age. The proponents of the law say that this is based on compassion and mercy. The opposition and right to life campaigners claim that children cannot make such a decision and besides, there are superb pain relieving and suppression medication and drugs and superb care facilities available. A terminally sick child, with pain suppressed, can and should have all the love and caring possible. A child cherishes that love and clings to it and rarely, if ever, could give it up. It is the most basic instinct and desire of a human person to be wanted, loved and helped, not to be discarded and killed off or be persuaded to be killed. The law's supporters say it is practical. In a few more years, that law may be expanded to cover disabled old folk and severely disabled non-terminally ill children too.
Euthanasia is becoming acceptable in the rich countries where most people live a very materialistic and selfish life. For some, without the Christian ethic, it is the solution to the financial burden carried by families and the state in caring for the severely disabled and aged. Euthanasia is the logical outcome of a "throw away" society, where the life of the weak and the sick is downgraded and given lesser importance and support. The inequality is widespread. Instead, the love of success and wealth is exalted.
Caring for the elderly and the sick was once a profession of great honor and respect; it is now seen as a degrading work and few want it in developed economies. There is a massive shortage of nurses and care-givers in Germany for example.
On the extreme right, there is the Neo-Nazi ideology that practiced this killing in its evil days. That ideology is on the rise. In Greece, the Golden Dawn party is one example. They consider people of different race and condition as unwanted commodities and advocate their exclusion and killing. Also, some heartless politicians judge people by their economic and productive value to society. When that is diminished, the terminally sick can be considered disposable. What then will follow?
The tolerance of the modern slave trade is an example of an immoral, hypocritical and uncaring society. Over several million children worldwide are sold into brothels and become fodder for sex tourists to use for selfish gratification and are then discarded. It is like a living death; they are killed spiritually and emotionally. In some European countries, prostitution is legalized. This brings benefits and protection to free consenting prostitutes who are EU citizens. However, thousands of non EU citizens, mostly from Eastern countries are trafficked and sold to huge European brothels and survive in bondage and forced labor. The law is the screen and shield behind which the traffickers find cover for their slavery-like operations.
The more cynical critics of euthanasia say there is a sinister hidden agenda behind it and it will expand in time to get rid of the young and old who are terminally ill and save the family and state billions of Euro. Their consenting loveless relatives can get rid of them and get on with their lives.
In most legal systems, it has long established that a minor cannot give informed consent to serious acts such as rape, murder and grand theft. They cannot even vote in an election until 18 or 21 as they lack the maturity to decide on such important issues. But now the Belgium law sweeps all that aside and says a child can decide to live or die. They can be so easily persuaded and manipulated by parents to "request” to be killed and agree just to please their parents thinking they are all the more loved by them. Abortion is also unlawful killing of the unborn in most cases; it is likely to be for the convenience of the parents and society.
I have seen and documented many cases of children being abused by their own parents; raped, beaten, scalded, tortured and killed that the legal killing of them would give parents justification. Such a law is open to abuse. How can a child give informed consent to be killed when they have no real understanding of death since they have hardly lived? All they want is to be loved? The right to life is the most powerful and highest value that humans must strive to uphold in all circumstances.
Fr Shay Cullen is a Catholic priest who serves the people of The Philippines. He is the co-founder of PREDA.org - a nonprofit dedicated to the protection of children.