BELGIUM:  Lottery

BELGIUM: Lottery

Lottery_K10KI’m going to ask you all to journey with me into an imaginary world. A parallel universe if you will. This world bears some similarity with the one of H.G Wells’ Eloi from his book The Time Machine. And possibly something from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games as well.

It’s a nice world to live in, really. You are relatively happy there. You get to spend a great deal of time with your child and you generally feel fulfilled. There is this small matter of the alien usurpers that govern the world but in daily life, you don’t even notice them. Afterall, they did manage to rule out world hunger and poverty, so at times you are even grateful to them.

Every once in a while, however, the aliens impose their Lottery. It is a constant little threat that buzzes at a corner of your head. The Lottery picks out subjects at random, which are then summoned to the alien High Office. No one really knows what happens there but everyone agrees it’s nasty. Sometimes the subjects are adults, sometimes children. Even babies don’t escape the Lottery. But it has never happened to you or anyone you know. So, you are quite comfortable and don’t even mind following the Lottery outcomes.

Until that fatal Lottery Day. You don’t even know your child’s name is picked until you see his hypodermal chip changing colour. At first you try to deny it. It has to be a play of the light. A mistake, maybe.  But then it is on the news as well. Your son is the new subject and he hasn’t come in yet like he should have. The aliens are coming for him.

Being accustomed to human habits, they allow you to go with him, although they advise against it. Of course you go. All parents do, the aliens say. Humans never listen to reason.

In the following weeks, your child is poked around. Needles, infusions and pills. He has to swallow big magnet-like sensors and gets extra chips. Wires go in and out. He is brave and endures. You can see his anxiety, but you assure him it should be over soon. That’s what they tell you anyway.

Then the pain comes. And his screams. Oh, his screams. You kiss his forehead, telling him to hold on. The aliens don’t give in to your pleas to stop. To please stop.

The pain comes and goes. In between, he is exhausted, but brave, still. You believe he is so much braver than you are.

One day, the aliens take you aside for a little talk. They inform you your child isn’t going to be one of those subjects that gets to go home after a memory wipe. Their studies show he actually is an excellent subject for their experiments. He is quite special. He is going to stay at the High Office forever. As long as his little body can endure anyway.

It’s your time to scream now. Your legs give in. You beg them to take you instead. There must be some similarities between the both of you, you plea. Maybe you would make an even better subject. You might be able to endure longer than your precious little boy.

Of course they don’t give in. That was not how the Lottery works. It’s your child they want.

So, day in, day out, you watch your child suffer. When you can’t bear looking, you still hear him anyway.

One day, the pain is exceptionally hard to cope with. Out of breath, your child tells you again he can’t do it anymore. He doesn’t even care for going home anymore. He just wants it all to stop.

For the first time you can’t find the strength to tell him to hold on. Why would he? The door is locked and guarded. And the aliens seem more thrilled with their results every day.

They will never let him go now.

This is why in Belgium, as of February 2014, euthanasia for minors was legalized.

We don’t have aliens here (yet) but we do have children suffering from terminal illness. Children with no other perspective in life than death.

Some are born into it; others see their life changing overnight. Some are in constant, barely sedated, pain; others are sitting out their time. Some have a clear will about what they want from life; others only know the difference between comfort and discomfort. Some will want to live; others will want to die.

I don’t expect you all to fully agree with this law. I do understand there are various objections, moral and religious. I do realize there are fears of misjudgement, or even misuse.

But for me, I’m mostly relieved and confident.

Relieved these children will now be able to make the most important decision of their lives. Confident they will be able to make the right choice with the support of their parents and doctors. They have my support too. 

How about you? Would you be able to support a child or a parent on such decision? Are there laws for or against euthanasia for minors in your part of the world?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K from The Penguin and The Panther.

The picture in this post is credited to the author.


If you ask her about her daytime job, Katinka will tell you all about the challenge of studying the fate of radioactive substances in the deep subsurface. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising four kids together with five other parents, each with their own quirks, wishes and (dis)abilities. As parenting and especially co-parenting involves a lot of letting go, she finds herself singing the theme song to Frozen over and over again, even when the kids are not even there...

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