Child Euthanasia?

  1. 3
    Belgium's parliament has approved a child euthanasia bill. While I am personally all for adults having the choice for dignified death, I am torn about if a child will really understand what they are asking for. I am interested to hear the thoughts of AN community and especially nurses who have worked with terminal children.

    news source:
  2. Get the Hottest Nursing Topics Straight to Your Inbox!

  3. 5 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    My first thought on this is my gut reaction that this is absolutely terrible and should not be legal. Then, I started thinking about some of the diseases that might affect young children and cause excruciating pain followed closely by death. The things that come to mind are terrifying: osteogenesis imperfecta, anacephaly, and metastasized cancer (among other things). If a parent considered terminating a pregnancy that they felt would result in a life of suffering, few healthcare professionals would question it. It's a line in the sand, really, after birth.

    That being said, I've been an oncology nurse for my entire nursing career. I've seen a lot of pain and suffering. I have never seen a patient hospice couldn't lead to the final moments of life with dignity and comfort. This is far preferable ethically to me, as even if you hasten death, you're not picking the exact moment.

    I remember one tenager we had on my unit dying from a rare, severe neurological cancer. She had massive tumors that doubled her body size, severe tremors, and crippling anxiety. We had her on 2 opiate infusions, a baclofen pump, and an Ativan PCA. Her pain and other symptoms became manageable. If you're that sick, switching to comfort measures exclusively will quickly result in death without actually "pulling the trigger."

    Adults that choose euthanasia often do so because they can't stand the fear of a progressive disorder that will leave them dependent on others. In all honesty, children, especially those with severe chronic illness are already dependent on others. The level of fear and anxiety in adults are just generally not there in children.

    So there you have my rambling thoughts on the matter. Thanks for sharing this thought provoking article. I had no idea any countries were even considering this for children.
    Ayvah, traumaRUs, and krisiepoo like this.
  5. 4
    Having the option gives another choice, and I'm all for that.
    OCNRN63, krisiepoo, Fiona59, and 1 other like this.
  6. 1
    I don't imagine situations where the child is asking for active euthanasia rather that the child is end of life and something like larger doses of pain meds are used to help hasten. I do know of one situation where a sedative was pushed by a physician and with family support for a patient that had lingered for a long time and was starting to struggle. I don't see this getting abused as there aren't too many situations where the parents are ready or willing to do that. Usually care is prolonged extensively because parents are unwilling or emotionally unable to stop cares despite the outcome. It's difficult to watch and there's a moment where it switched from doing stuff for the patient vs doing stuff to the patient. I am sure there can be many ethical, spiritual and emotional debates over this.

    I have witnessed teenagers who don't want to do treatment but do it for the parent. One was a leukemia relapse. He actually was of age to make his own decisions but continued care for his parents sake. Another teen relapsed and hid her symptoms either out of fear for what it meant or knowing she would have to go through treatments. Another teen did not want to be intubated again and was. None survived. Sad stuff but it's sadder to me to think that someone didn't die the way they wanted to. And these kids (especially older) with history like that tend to be wise beyond their years.

    I think they're all case by case situations and it still needs to be a family decision to stop treatments or do palliative care in whatever capacity that means.
    canigraduate likes this.
  7. 1
    Some choices are wrong. When human life is not protected and valued at any point, all human life becomes threatened.

    An American Antidote for Belgium Euthanizing Children | Coming Home
    SoldierNurse22 likes this.
  8. 3
    Quote from duskyjewel
    Some choices are wrong. When human life is not protected and valued at any point, all human life becomes threatened.

    An American Antidote for Belgium Euthanizing Children | Coming Home
    Thank you. Another perspective in the discussion is welcome!

    I personally don't think children are capable emotionally or intellectually to understand suicide. And I agree, as hospice, that palliative care is the way to go and am glad to see this field growing and growing.

    Personally, I don't believe as medical professionals that we should actively kill a person. This discussion started up a little bit in another thread recently and at the time I thought a thread that pertained to assisted suicide deserved its own thread. So, here we go.

    What I said was that after becoming a nurse and now working hospice, I understand the reasoning behind the euthanasia movement but I don't believe that is the way to go.

    My focus would be on educating people more on making EOL decisions now, getting their Advanced Directives out of the way but also choosing a person to be their stand-in of sorts when they get to the point where they cannot make decisions. That person of course needs to carry out the wishes of the patient.

    I think if we did more education in this way, we wouldn't end up with the intubated 90 year old in the ICU with dementia and a myriad of co-morbidities who is not a DNR. Doctors, nurses, and the public need to get more involved in the palliative side of medicine.

    Then we could help people in a way that didn't ask us to actively kill them.
    duskyjewel, SoldierNurse22, and heron like this.