A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Suffer the Little Children…

Posted on: February 13, 2014

As I sat down today to write this post, I thought I’d do a quick web search to find out the results of Belgium’s vote on a law that would extend euthanasia to minors who are terminally ill.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the CNN report: parliament voted 86 to 44 in favour, with 12 abstentions, and the bill will become law once signed by the king.

I can’t imagine extending the “right to die” to children under 18, even with parental consent being required. And palliative care nurse Sonja Develter raised an awful possibility when she spoke with CNN: she fears that children might opt for euthanasia because they believe that’s what their families want.

The CNN article notes that, while euthanasia laws were extended to children in the Netherlands in 2002, only five children there have opted for euthanasia. Which makes me wonder who is advocating such laws be passed, and why.

The Catechism has much to say about raising our children, but a few points stand out for me today:

  • “Children are the supreme gift of marriage (…).” (s. 1652)
  • “The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family.” (s. 2209)
  • “Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons.” (s. 2222)
  • “Parents’ respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs.” (s. 2228)

How does extending euthanasia to children fit into this picture? How does it demonstrate support for the family, respect for children, or provision for their needs? How does it treat children as a gift from God?

Section 2279 of the Catechism tells us, “Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.” Could effort and money not be better spent in providing quality end-of-life care and support to families?

Sadly, this vote will no doubt provide fuel for the euthanasia debate in Quebec, where supporters will point to the extension of euthanasia laws in Belgium as a sign that such laws are needed here.

I pray that we would be guided and inspired by these words from Donum Vitae (Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation), issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and quoted in s. 2273 of the Catechism:

Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.


1 Response to "Suffer the Little Children…"

Oh my. I had not heard the news of this and while it saddens me to hear it I am so glad you have brought this to my attention so I can pray about it. How truly sad.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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