A teenager in Belgium has become the world’s first child to be legally euthanised in what has been slammed as “a truly shocking case”.
The 17-year-old was deemed to be terminally ill and in the final stages of life.
The country removed all age restrictions for euthanasia in 2014.
The act was praised by Flemish senator Jean-Jacques De Gucht, who said: “It gives me some comfort to know that now there is a choice out there for children in the final terminal stages.”
Alistair Thompson, of the UK campaign group Care Not Killing, criticised the procedure, and warned that legalising euthanasia results in a slippery slope.
“It is a truly shocking case. Doctors and healthcare professionals are meant to protect patients”, he said.
“The moment you say they can in certain circumstances kill their patients it is always going to be debatable about exactly how old or mentally competent they must be.”
Belgium legalised euthanasia for over-18s in 2002. The number of euthanised patients in 2015 was 2023, a figure that has risen dramatically since 2003, where there were 235.
Last month, The Times reported that terminally-ill ‘euthanasia tourists’ are flocking to Belgium to end their lives.
In Britain, euthanasia is illegal and is regarded as manslaughter or murder, carrying a sentence of up to life imprisonment.
Assisted Dying Bill
Last year, the Assisted Dying Bill was rejected by MPs in the House of Commons by 330 votes to 118.
The result came following pressure from disabled rights groups, the medical profession, a number of charities and religious leaders.
Serious concerns had been raised that legalising assisted suicide, a type of euthanasia, would pressurise the sick, elderly and vulnerable into ending their lives for fear of being a burden.
Many pointed to the incremental extension of the practice in Belgium, and the absence of genuine safeguards.