Like most of you, I have experience of being a child and a teenager. I’m also a parent, and thus have much experience trying to reason with children and teens.
When I was 16, I was as straight-laced as you could get. I didn’t drink, smoke, party or get Bs on my homework. Yet, I rather stupidly got quite drunk – in my own house, with my father home – at a party I’d thrown. I won’t embarrass my children by publicly telling tales about their adolescence, but let’s just say that I’ve got a stack of stories that would highlight their inability to make informed and intelligent decisions. A BIG stack.
The National Institute of Mental Health says that the human brain doesn’t mature until one hits the mid-20s:
The parts of the brain responsible for more “top-down” control, controlling impulses, and planning ahead—the hallmarks of adult behavior—are among the last to mature.
This explains things like, “Hey, you drive around the parking lot while I car surf” and “It’s okay, Mom and Dad will never find out.” It also helps to explain why suicide is the third leading cause of death of American youth. They truly cannot see a way out of situations that have them depressed, scared, lonely, scarred. Their brains simply cannot “plan ahead:” they don’t have the maturity to know, as adults often do, “this too shall pass,” or that difficult or painful situations often bear good fruit.
Belgium has now passed a law allowing for euthanasia for minors. A country with a majority of Catholic citizens has now declared it:
…permissible for terminally ill children who are close to death, experiencing “constant and unbearable suffering” and can show a “capacity of discernment,” meaning they can demonstrate they understand the consequences of such a choice.
The measure is an amended version of a 2002 law that allowed euthanasia for adults, and it extends this to those under 18. The legislation also requires that a request for euthanasia include the written consent of a parent.
There is a “safeguard” in place to make sure that such acts are purely voluntary: a psychologist has to certify that the child has “capacity or discernment” to understand what they are doing. Yet, brain research is clear: young people lack the capacity to make such decisions.
Wesley J. Smith at National Review Online says that this decision by Belgium is a leap of a moral cliff. Keep in mind that euthanizing children is only the last in a string of decisions by Belgians that highlight the lack of respect for the dignity of human life.
Add in the organ harvesting/euthanasia killings, euthanasia for elderly couples, mentally ill, and sexually exploited despairing people, and we see that Belgium has abandoned any belief in the sanctity/equality of human life.
This is the horrific logic of euthanasia: Once killing is accepted as an answer to human difficulty and suffering, the power of sheer logic dictates that there is no bottom.
What distinguishes Belgium is the frightening enthusiasm with which the Belgian people and doctors have embraced the killing agenda. They have leaped off a vertical moral cliff with a smile on their faces.
No parent wants to see their child in pain or suffering, let alone face the idea of their child’s death. However, a child is not the family dog, meant to put down when it gets terminally ill. And no “safeguard” can stop a young person from making a decision that cannot be reversed.
Teens make ill-informed and downright stupid decisions every day: they drive too fast, they cut class, they shoplift, they commit crimes. They have sex too soon, and get pregnant too soon. They drop out of school. They drink and drive. As adults, our job is to help them make informed decisions and learn from mistakes by holding them to the consequences of their decisions. You can’t do that if the young person is dead. Belgium: killing children for any reason is wrong. As Wesley J. Smith says, you have given in to the horrific logic of euthanasia. You will reap the consequences, and your young people will pay the price.
Join hosts Brit Hume, Chuck Colson, Dr. Robert George, Acton's Michael Miller, and a distinguished panel as they undertake a six part exploration of Ethics before a live student audience in Princeton, NJ.