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Belgian Lawmakers Approve Extending Euthanasia to Children

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    AP
    In this Nov. 25, 2013 file photo, doctors visit a patient at the intensive care unit of the Queen Fabiola Children's Hospital in Brussels. Belgian lawmakers approved on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 a controversial euthanasia law. If adopted, it will decriminalize euthanasia for children, if they are in great pain, suffer from a terminal condition and are expected to die soon.

    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.