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Child euthanasia: should we just not talk about it?
  1. Luc Bovens
  1. Correspondence to Dr Luc Bovens, Department of Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A2AE, UK; L.Bovens{at}


Belgium has recently extended its euthanasia legislation to minors, making it the first legislation in the world that does not specify any age limit. I consider two strands in the opposition to this legislation. First, I identify five arguments in the public debate to the effect that euthanasia for minors is somehow worse than euthanasia for adults—viz, arguments from weightiness, capability of discernment, pressure, sensitivity and sufficient palliative care—and show that these arguments are wanting. Second, there is another position in the public debate that wishes to keep the current age restriction on the books and have ethics boards exercise discretion in euthanasia decisions for minors. I interpret this position on the background of Velleman's ‘Against the Right to Die’ and show that, although costs remain substantial, it actually can provide some qualified support against extending euthanasia legislation to minors.

  • Euthanasia
  • Children
  • Decision-making
  • End-of-life
  • Paediatrics

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