A mother who had two terminally ill daughters has criticised Belgium’s new child euthanasia law, saying it was passed by people who have not seen the real children involved.
Writing in the Catholic Herald Helen Smith said her two children weren’t “‘Rachel and Rebecca: sick and dying children’, they were just ‘Rachel and Rebecca'”.
She said: “Through all of their suffering and pain the girls continued to love life and to make the most of it.”
But she warned that Belgium’s new law will “inevitably put pressure on families to make the decision to euthanise their children”.
The law she was criticising – passed by Belgian MPs earlier this month – does away with the previous minimum age of 18 for euthanasia.
It means that terminally ill children of any age can be killed, if the parents agree and the child is deemed to have a “state of discernment”.
Smith said the problem with the law “is that it has been made by people who have not had the ability to see beyond the condition and see the children, the real children”.
In her comments, written under a pseudonym, the mother said her perspective of demonstrating unconditional love was “turned upside down” when her daughters were diagnosed with a terminal illness.
She said the family tried to keep their life as normal as possible, going to the shops and the park as well as seeing friends.
But: “There were moments of complete and utter despair as we were unable to do anything to relieve their pain and suffering”, she said.
“I would have done anything out of love for them, but I would never have considered euthanasia”, she commented.
Although outsiders could only see “sadness and limitation”, actually the children lived fully in school and with friends and family – even though their lives ended “unexpectedly early”.
“Belgian society will be a poorer place” for the new law, she said.