Belgium Socialist Party Pushes Euthanasia Law

Legislators in Belgium are considering expanding the country's euthanasia law to allow for children and those with mental illness to be euthanized.

On Tuesday, the proposed changes were submitted to the Belgian parliament by members of the Socialist Party, much to the disappointment of other members of parliament.

The changes would affect the country's decade-old euthanasia law by allowing "the law to be extended to minors if they are capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate," according to the Christian Institute.

Belgium became the second country in the world to legalize euthanasia after the Netherlands, but the law only applies to those individuals who are 18 or over.

"The idea is to update the law to take better account of dramatic situations and extremely harrowing cases we must find a response to," Socialist party leader Thierry Giet said in a statement.

The European Institute of Bioethics had previously denounced the current euthanasia law in Belgium after a decade ling report was released covering euthanasia in the country.

Official figures of documented cases of euthanasia in Belgium have increased 500 percent since 2003. In 2011, figures reveal that 1,133 cases of euthanasia were recorded, accounting for about one percent of all deaths in the country.

"The lessons are clear. Once you relax the law on euthanasia or assisted suicide steady extension will follow as night follows day," Peter Saunders, director of campaign group Care not Killing, previously stated in response to the report.

He added that what we are witnessing in Belgium is "the steady intentional escalation of numbers with a gradual widening of the categories of patients to be included."

There is also concern for the ethical treatment of patients after local reports last year uncovered that people were being killed by euthanasia in Belgium and having their organs harvested for organ donations.