"200,000 Europeans" sign petition to put pressure on King Filip

Over 200,000 European citizens have asked King Filip of the Belgians to refrain from signing the bill that will extend the right-to-die to children. This was reported by the Dutch Catholic news supplier Katholiek Nieuwsblad on its website.

The Katholiek Nieuwsblad is citing the Austrian press agency Kathpress to report that the petition was started two weeks ago by a couple living in Vienna. In the petition, King Filip is urged to "follow his conscience and to come forward as a monarch with ethical principles."

The couple that started the petition, claims that the Belgian legislation will have an effect on Europe and the whole world. They say that the fact that citizens from 20 different countries have signed the petition, shows "the intensity of the shock wave that was sent through the whole of Europe".

Earlier this month, the Lower House of the Belgian Parliament approved legislation that extends euthanasia to terminally ill children. Belgium will thus become one of the world's only countries where euthanasia will be possible for minors under 18. The legislation provides a number of safeguards though. Euthanasia can only be carried out on under 18's if their suffering is unbearable and they are terminally ill.

The children have to be in full possession of their mental skills and have to request the intervention themselves. The children's parents have to give a written authorisation and psychological support from a medical team must be provided.

Although King Filip's signature is needed to allow the new legislation to come into force, chances are small that King Filip will actually refuse to do so. At the same time, his signature is only symbolic.

In the 1990s, the late King Boudewijn refused to sign a bill about abortion. Eventually, the Belgian government found a "technical" way out for this problem. Boudewijn was deprived from his powers for 36 hours, and during this time the government took over his function to sign the bill.