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First child to be euthanized dies after struggle with terminal illness

Initially included in the proposals for mercy killings were minors, but after political opposition, they were removed in the final legislation.

When we think of euthanasia and mercy killings in general, images of old and sickly and bed-ridden individuals come to our minds.

However, in Belgium, this popular scenario may soon change, especially after the age restrictions for mercy killings were lifted two years ago.

In fact, just recently a terminally ill minor became the first child in the country to be euthanized after the change in the legislation.

According to a CNN report, the physician-assisted suicide happened just last week.

Speaking to CNN affiliate VTM, Belgian lawmaker Jacques De Gucht said that the minor, who had been suffering from a terminal illness, had personally asked for the procedure.

"I think it's very important that we, as a society, have given the opportunity to those people to decide for themselves in what manner they cope with that situation," Jacques De Gucht said.

Meanwhile, Wim Distelmans, chairman of Belgium's Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia, told state broadcaster RTBF that there are only few children who seek to be euthanized.

That doesn’t mean, however, that “we should deny them the right to a dignified death.”

In 2002, Belgium legalized euthanasia for those "constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated.”

Initially included in the proposals for mercy killings were minors, but after political opposition, they were removed in the final legislation.

The legislation extended its reach to people as young as 18 in 2013, but only under strict conditions, such as the child proving that they understand what euthanasia really meant.

Another condition is that parental or consent be given.

"This can only be in cases of serious and incurable diseases, which is the same thing for adults ... but for minors an additional condition is that the death must be expected in the near future," said president of Belgium's Association for the Right to Die with Dignity Jacqueline Herremans to RTBF.

Thus far, Belgium is the only country in the world that allows children of any age to be mercy killed.

READ: A mom’s heartbreaking wish: “I want my son to die”

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