Belgian lawmakers extend euthanasia to children

Belgian mother Linda van Roy speaks to the Associated Press about her deceased daughter, Ella-Louise, at her home in Schilde, Belgium, Feb. 7, 2014. Belgium, one of the very few countries where euthanasia is legal, should take the unprecedented step this week of abolishing age restrictions on who can ask to be put to death. 
Virginia Mayo/AP

BRUSSELS -- Belgian lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to extend the country’s euthanasia law to children under 18.

The 86-44 vote Thursday in the House of Representatives, with 12 abstentions, followed approval by the Senate last December.

The law empowers children with terminal ailments who are in great pain to request to be put to death if their parents agree and a psychiatrist or psychologist find they are conscious of what their choice signifies. The law was opposed by some Belgian pediatricians and the country’s leading Roman Catholic cleric.

The law will go into effect when signed by Belgium’s monarch, King Philippe. The king was not expected to oppose the measure.

Belgium’s euthanasia law, passed in 2002, previously applied only to legal adults.