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A four-year-old girl has personally urged King Philippe of Belgium not to sign the law that would extend euthanasia to under-18s.
The Senate, Belgium’s upper house, approved the legislation in December and Belgium’s lower house of parliament's justice commission approved the draft law last week despite consistent opposition from the Church.
The lower house is due to debate the legislation today and to vote tomorrow. The law is widely expected to pass, in which case it must then be sent to King Philippe to be officially signed into law.
Jessica Saba features in a four-minute video along with her siblings and parents. “Please do not sign the euthanasia law, for the sake of the children,” she says.
Jessica was born in Montreal in May 2009 with a severe cardiac malformation but after life-saving surgery, left hospital when she was five weeks old.
Jessica’s father, Dr Paul Saba, also makes an appeal, arguing that any legalisation of paediatric euthanasia in Belgium could set a precedent for other countries. He said millions of children are born each year with conditions as severe his daughter’s.
The Quebec government is attempting to pass a euthanasia law, and Quebec’s Human Rights Commission has recommended that children and other vulnerable people have access to euthanasia.
Millions of children are born each year with severe congenital malformations. Like Jessica, many of them would be candidates for euthanasia.
Jessica's mother Marisa also appears in the video, warning that legalising euthanasia for children might encourage parents of sick or handicapped children "to give up too early".