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Belgium's Senate Approves Bill for Euthansia for Dying Children

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#1

Posted 02 January 2014 - 08:09 PM

http://www.bbc.co.uk...europe-25364745

 

So, it looks like Belgium is taking a big step in enabling a terminally ill child to end his/her life. If this passes, there will be no age limit resisting euthanasia, as long as a child understands what it means and as long as the parents are in agreement with the child's decision.

 

Personally, I think this could alleviate a great deal of emotional and physical pain, both on the patient and the family. I know it's going to raise a bit of controversy, but as quite a few of you know now, I work in a long-term pediatric healthcare facility, where a great deal of my patients are kids who are terminally ill. I've noted in the suicide thread that I've worked with a 14-year-old girl who was drugged with PCP, and her mental state was degraded to the point (when she first entered our facility) that she was constantly unconscious, unaware, paralyzed from the neck down, reliant on a feeding tube, and dependent on a ventilator for her every breath of air. She entered the facility a year ago, and now she's able to move her arms and legs a bit, but not much else. She's also more aware and can understand everything we say to her, which we weren't sure she was capable of previously. Well, the other day, she fought three of us, and I mean kicking, punching, biting, scratching, when we tried to reattach her ventilator. We took it off to change her shirts, and it was so clear in her eyes and gestures that she wanted to die, right then and there. It took four people just to pin her down and get her to lay flat so that we could reattach the only thing that would keep her alive. She didn't want it. Her oxygen levels desaturated to the point that she had turned blue and had become too weak to fight us anymore. I mean, this poor girl cried and shook her head when we asked her if she wanted to get better, and what could we do? All we could we was reattach that ventilator and watch that perfectly cognizant girl, trapped in a paralyzed body, suffer.

 

Similarly, I have several patients who lack any signs of brain activity. They are "gone" to the point that we had to sew their eyes shut. They are essentially empty bodies being pumped full of nutrition and air with no hope of recovery. No movement, nothing.  It's a way for the state to make a quick buck.  

 

Now, there are a few points of controversy here. One in particular being that a child is not as mentally mature as an adult and could not make a sound decision at such a young age. Pediatricians argued, however:

 

“Why deprive minors of this last possibility? Experience shows us that in cases of serious illness and imminent death, minors develop very quickly a great maturity, to the point where they are often better able to reflect and express themselves on life than healthy people.”

http://www.nationalr...a/#.UsW_7mRDseU

 

On the other hand, opponents argue:

"We think that children don't understand the character of death, they don't understand the irreversibility of death," said Els Van Hoof of the Christian Democratic and Flemish party. "They are also influenced by authority, by their parents, by the medical team. So, to take a decision which is a huge decision about their death we don't think that they are capable of doing it."

http://www.bbc.co.uk...europe-25364745

 

What does this mean for patients like mine? Well, I'm not sure. It states that the patient must be conscious of his/her decision, and how can that be determined from a child who can't speak over a ventilator? The parents must also agree, and many times in health care, the parents are nowhere to be found. This is the sad truth for the majority of my long-term patients. So then what? I know this is about Belgium, but what if this was present in the United States, or elsewhere?

 

- - -

 

Anyway, basically what I want to discuss is what you guys think of this (and I don't know if this is more geared for D&D, but that's up to you, mods).  Do you think children are mentally mature enough to understand that death is irreversible? Do you think this practice would be taken advantage of? Would there be too many regrets with such decisions? 

 

As I just mentioned above, what does that mean for the patients whose families aren't involved? What about those who can't communicate verbally? Some of mine can blink once for "yes" and twice for "no", but is that method reliable enough for a doctor to make a decision and call it sound?  I just feel that there are so many "ifs" to be discussed here.

 

Do you think such a bill would be passed in a country like the United States? What about other countries? Is this morally acceptable?  I've seen it first hand, so I have my opinions fairly set in stone, but I'd like to hear some other opinions on the matter. 

 

 


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#2

Posted 02 January 2014 - 09:28 PM

Won't be long until I'll see my old grandmother being euthanized because she can't make a living.


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#3

Posted 02 January 2014 - 09:39 PM Edited by Nale Dixon, 02 January 2014 - 09:39 PM.

Won't be long until I'll see my old grandmother being euthanized because she can't make a living.

Euthansia for Dying Children


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#4

Posted 02 January 2014 - 09:49 PM

I can only support something that allows people to make decisions about their own life. 


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#5

Posted 02 January 2014 - 09:57 PM

Won't be long until I'll see my old grandmother being euthanized because she can't make a living.

 

Textbook example of a Slippery Slope. Logical fallacies are going strong tonight.

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#6

Posted 02 January 2014 - 10:35 PM

Finally a more civilized country. I wonder when Obama will step in to 'correct' them.


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#7

Posted 02 January 2014 - 10:39 PM Edited by Raavi, 03 January 2014 - 04:09 AM.

Finally a more civilized country. I wonder when Obama will step in to 'correct' them.

 

And the logical fallacies continue.. Red herring alert!

 

OT: It's hard to give an answer on this, logically I would say, yes of course. But If I am honest if it were my own child, I would do everything that is possible and then some to save my child.

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#8

Posted 03 January 2014 - 02:07 AM

It was heartbreaking hearing your story about that poor girl, she shouldn't have to live like that if she doesn't want to. It's a sorry thing, but I don't think it's right to prolong someone's suffering. It should be the patient's right to be euthanized.

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#9

Posted 03 January 2014 - 02:36 AM Edited by Crazyeighties, 03 January 2014 - 04:18 AM.

I would be in favour of it, after having cancer as a child (more then once) it is something that can be horrible, some of the treatments are worse then death, not to mention the physical pain. If there is a terminal illness that would slowly or quickly turn a child into a vegitable or cause a slow painful death it should be the child's desission (after making sure the child in question understands that they won't wake up)
To be completely honest I don't see why the United States does not pass a similar law. I mean there are 1,000's if people suffering from illnesses that will kill them or make them just a shell of what they once were.
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#10

Posted 03 January 2014 - 03:25 PM

Yeah, and every time I mention this to people, they seem to think that children aren't mature enough to make such a big decision.  And then there's always that possibility of a person in a coma coming back, right?  I feel like that's a big part of it. We've heard the miracle stories where someone snaps out of it after years.

 

We just don't know enough about the brain, either. We don't know whether those in comas can hear us or can think. We don't know if they're trapped in their body or if their mind really is shut off. So what about those kids in comas who show no sign of improvement? Should there be euthanasia for them, too? They obviously have no say in it, and we don't know if they'll wake up or not, which is really the only obstacle here. 


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#11

Posted 03 January 2014 - 04:23 PM

What does mental maturity even mean? It's just to much of a general term, when are you even mature enough to make these decisions? A wast majority of people in their 20s aren't mentally mature enough, the clearest example of this being when you're in your first few relationships, acting bitchy and childish over small and unimportant matters.


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#12

Posted 03 January 2014 - 05:23 PM Edited by Secura, 03 January 2014 - 05:33 PM.

Children are much, much smarter than we give them credit for, and I really can't be against something that could end a child's suffering, keeping them alive only to die later in far more painful way is just barbaric.

 

I understand why the parents have to give their consent, it is their child dying and not mine. I do, however, have to wonder if they'll only end up causing their child more suffering and more pain if they can't comply with their son/daughter's last wishes. Could you really say no to a child who just wanted to die, who'd had enough, knew they weren't going to get any better and just give up? I couldn't. Even if it was my own child I couldn't live with the fact that I'd denied a peaceful, painless outcome to little boy or girl who's every waking moment is riddled with anxiety and fear.

 

The guy who's arguing that children can't understand the finality of death has some damn nerve though. Children understand death just as much as you or I, it's not as if dying is a hard concept to grasp. I think that if they're told that they won't come back from this, that they will die and that there's no hope of recovery by a medical professional, then and only then will they be able to make a decision. A real decision, not one made out of fear of losing someone like the parents, or irrationality, but a decision based on what are cold, hard, facts, it is their life, not ours and only they in that position should decide whether or not they want to die. 


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#13

Posted 03 January 2014 - 05:56 PM Edited by dice, 03 January 2014 - 05:59 PM.

I know children are smart, I have experience working with young children that's why I'm worried. They are manipulative, very straight forward and learn quickly the things that interest them. The thing that bothers me is that just teaching a child the basic concept of money is very hard and takes years for them to grasp the real meaning of it, teaching them the value of life would be even more difficult. And don't get me wrong, I support the idea of them also having a word in this, but I'm not really sure they would even make the right decision. How do you even know they understand what 'death' is or what it means? I think children who lost someone close in the past and who went through the emotional trauma of their loss will probably be the ones, who'll make the best decisions. I just don't see an effective way of showing them the real meaning of their decision

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#14

Posted 04 January 2014 - 12:44 AM

I know children are smart, I have experience working with young children that's why I'm worried. They are manipulative, very straight forward and learn quickly the things that interest them. The thing that bothers me is that just teaching a child the basic concept of money is very hard and takes years for them to grasp the real meaning of it, teaching them the value of life would be even more difficult. And don't get me wrong, I support the idea of them also having a word in this, but I'm not really sure they would even make the right decision. How do you even know they understand what 'death' is or what it means? I think children who lost someone close in the past and who went through the emotional trauma of their loss will probably be the ones, who'll make the best decisions. I just don't see an effective way of showing them the real meaning of their decision


Children that are terminal have a better understanding of death, knowing that their disease is deadly most understand what death is.

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#15

Posted 04 January 2014 - 01:25 AM Edited by Fireman, 04 January 2014 - 01:28 AM.

How would this even work? A child is in  pain and says: I wish I were dead. And then the doctor goes: Are you sure? Sign here.

 

I can truely understand the people who say that children aren't able to make such decisions. They rely much more on the moment and don't have the same scope people of 18+ have on life.

 

Sure, they might have a better understanding of death and the meaning of euthanasia, but do they know enough about life to decide it's not worth living on?

 

Or as dice put it; "Do they know the value of life?"


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#16

Posted 04 January 2014 - 03:37 AM Edited by Secura, 04 January 2014 - 03:44 AM.

It's not about knowing the value of life in general, it's about they themselves knowing the value of their own lives, and if you're in a bad enough state where assisted suicide is a viable option, then your quality of life must be pretty low. I'm almost certain they understand the value of life more than I ever will.


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#17

Posted 04 January 2014 - 01:16 PM

I'm all for it. I'm not quite sure why they haven't got other such laws for adults (and children) in other countries. Why on earth would a child not understand if they wish to die or live? A kid knows when they have no quality of life and are not going to be better. Its worse for them to sit there in a vegetated state for X amount of years just because that's the way it is. I'm sure parents will also understand this, and I'm pretty sure they've even thought about it themselves. As in, wouldn't it be so much easier on the child if they did just pass instead of sitting in a world of pain.

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#18

Posted 04 January 2014 - 05:40 PM

I know children are smart, I have experience working with young children that's why I'm worried. They are manipulative, very straight forward and learn quickly the things that interest them. The thing that bothers me is that just teaching a child the basic concept of money is very hard and takes years for them to grasp the real meaning of it, teaching them the value of life would be even more difficult. And don't get me wrong, I support the idea of them also having a word in this, but I'm not really sure they would even make the right decision. How do you even know they understand what 'death' is or what it means? I think children who lost someone close in the past and who went through the emotional trauma of their loss will probably be the ones, who'll make the best decisions. I just don't see an effective way of showing them the real meaning of their decision

You're kidding, right? Teaching them the value of life would be even more difficult? How do you teach a child about the meaning of life when they will never experience it?

 

Let me paint a picture of one of my typical, terminal patients for you. Picture a little girl who's paralyzed from the neck down, who's on every medication in the book which is causing her limbs to contract to the point that they can't bend no matter how much we work to loosen them up via physical therapy. Science has shown that this is incredibly painful, but it prevents her from having life-threatening seizures, so we use it anyway. A ventilator pumps air through a hole in her trachea so that she can get the oxygen she needs which, in her case, means that she can't even talk.  This child never, ever even gets to taste food or water ever again. It's all pumped directly into her stomach.  This kid lays in bed every single day watching the same exact Disney movie over and over again, and we don't even know if she likes it or not...Oh well, we don't have the time to go buy new ones.  She can't even tell you if she's in pain because she's paralyzed and non-verbal. Imagine being in excruciating pain, yet you can't even scream or point to someone to get help. This could be this child's life every day. How do we teach quality of life to a kid like this?

 

Now, in a different situation, maybe there's a young cancer patient who's living at home, an arguably more ideal situation. Maybe she knows she's going to die, and the treatments she's been given have made her absolutely miserable. She's too weak to leave and see her friends, let alone walk around the house. She's probably constantly vomiting or writhing in pain, and maybe she just wants to leave the world a little bit early because the pain is just too unbearable. How do we teach quality of life to a kid like this?

 

When a child is dying, I'm pretty sure instincts kick in and the body realizes what's at stake here. Those kids will know what death is.  I mean, if they're terminally ill, surely it's been explained to them, and why take the risk and let them suffer just because we don't know how well they can really comprehend it?  

 

In reality, none of us know much about death. We all fear it because it's so terrifyingly mysterious to us.  All we know is that we go away and never come back, and there's not much more we can figure out than that.  Why should we wonder if a child will understand a concept that we ourselves barely understand?

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#19

Posted 04 January 2014 - 05:58 PM

All I'm trying to say is that their judgement will be clouded from the emotional pressure of their situation


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#20

Posted 04 January 2014 - 06:05 PM

Yes Dice. the problem is their situation isn't going to get any better, at least for the vast majority of children who are in this situation. Most of them will never know joy, or happiness, making them live is much crueller than letting them choose to die.

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#21

Posted 04 January 2014 - 06:22 PM Edited by 018361, 04 January 2014 - 06:23 PM.

For the most part I agree with both children and adults having this option. Especially after reading about those poor patients. :cry:


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#22

Posted 04 January 2014 - 06:58 PM

I'm not trying to create a pity party for them or anything. I just think that a lot of people who are making the decisions against this sort of practice are those who have never seen a child suffering firsthand. 


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#23

Posted 04 January 2014 - 07:11 PM

You would kill your pet if you knew it was going to spend the rest of its life in pain and suffering. Why would you treat your children any different? 


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#24

Posted 05 January 2014 - 12:26 PM Edited by dice, 05 January 2014 - 12:40 PM.

I'm not trying to create a pity party for them or anything. I just think that a lot of people who are making the decisions against this sort of practice are those who have never seen a child suffering firsthand. 

I'm not against it, I don't really have a side here. Both sides (pro or against) can have good and bad results and this is the thing that bothers me - there isn't a winning combination. They either naively choose death, not knowing what good they could still experience in life or they choose life and hope the good things will outweight the bad ones. Sure, their decisions for death could, and probably would be better for them in 75% cases, I'm just worried about the other 25% who would just give up, not knowing the full consequences of choosing death/having a life, feeling love(d), etc... Sure, the simplest solution would just be to invent a cure, but that's a whole different topic of debate. In the end, the best case would probably be this bill passing into law to end the childrens suffering

 

And next time please do not be so quick to judge other people


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#25

Posted 05 January 2014 - 02:20 PM

How am I judging? I wasn't addressing you. I was addressing those who make these laws. Many times, they make the rules that govern these kids' lives despite the fact that they've never seen their condition firsthand.
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#26

Posted 05 January 2014 - 09:58 PM

First off, it might as well be legalized, just so the option is available. And I could never see this sort of thing happening in the US, considering the grip conservatives have on the Congress. 

 

Onto the children, if the children would agree to it, I'm sure they know how death works. If they're old enough to be considered for such a decision, they're likely old enough to understand what they're agreeing to. But for someone along the lines of three or four, how would it be explained to them? If you told them it would take away all their pain, they'd probably go right to agreeing before hearing the consequences. And are the parents involved in this sort of thing? If a child in incredible pain wants to do it, what if they're parents choose not to? Would the parents be overruled, or would they be considered as the decision-makers for the kids? If the parents don't have a say, how would that impact other things (i.e. rebellious teenagers)? 

 

What if the child is unable to speak? Would the simple aforementioned blinks be enough? A blink deciding the fate of someone's life? Some sort of written agreement should be presented, in my opinion. But if the child is unable to write, what then? Would the blink be sufficient? Would the parents decide? Like the poster said, many an 'if' arises in these sort of situations. I mean, I support it, but who chooses wether or not an ill child unable to speak should die? Too many factors….


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#27

Posted 06 January 2014 - 01:02 AM Edited by Melchior, 06 January 2014 - 01:04 AM.

They aren't putting a button next to their beds saying "press here to die, small child."  Obviously it's not applicable to every circumstance. Let the policy architects work out the ins and outs of how it's implemented, the point of this law is generally that children are no longer excluded from euthanasia, not that they can end their lives whenever they want. All it's really established is that there are circumstances in which a child can end their own life, the article doesn't touch on when it's applied and what the caveats are.


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#28

Posted 06 January 2014 - 03:24 AM

Adult or children.. if they're in a terminal state.. let them go. No need to keep them alive, don't be selfish.

 

I've to a hospital once or twice or a few times in my life and crossed the rooms of those who are at the point of death. I feel sorry for them because I know loved ones are fighting hard to keep them alive. Just let them go.. it's easier that way.


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#29

Posted 07 January 2014 - 11:29 PM

As long as the parents and child consent, I guess this is ok! It would be odd to leave it to the child alone since they are under age!





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