Belgian Lawmakers Grant Children the Right to Die

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The lower house of the Belgian Parliament have adopted a bill that extends the right to euthanasia to minors. Belgium was already one of the very few countries where euthanasia is legal, but until now it has only been applicable for adults.

Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 for those in “constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated.” Until now, minors had to wait for nature to take its course or for them to turn 18.

Parliament voted 86 to 44 to amend the euthanasia law so that it would apply to minors, but only under certain additional conditions. Circumstances include parental consent and the requirement that the minor exhibit a “capacity for discernment” as determined by a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Before the legislation can go into effect, King Philippe must agree with and sign it.

There is widespread support in Belgium for the bill in the largely liberal country. However, it has also sparked vehement dissent from some. Dissenters argue that the legislation is too harsh and final, and an abandonment of children. Conversely, supporters of the legislation argue that children should have a choice and parents should not be forced to watch their terminally ill children suffer as they approach their inevitable death.

With adoption of the bill, Belgium will join the Netherlands in allowing euthanasia for children. The Netherlands has allowed child euthanasia since 2002 with parental consent. Since its adoption, only five children have utilized the Netherlands’ law.

Judge Rules Sperm Donor Is Legal Father Of Child Born To Lesbian Couple

In Topeka, Kansas a judge has deemed that a man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is the legal father of the child produced because a licensed doctor was not involved in the insemination. Now the man, William Marotta, must pay child support. Marotta responded to a Craigslist add posted by Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer in 2009. For $50 Marotta agreed to provide sperm to the lesbian couple. Without seeking legal advice, Marotta and the couple signed a document stating that Marotta was not to be responsible for the child.

Schreiner and Bauer separated within a year after the birth of their daughter. Schreiner sought financial aid from the state to help her support the child and listed “donor” as the child’s father. Determining that Marotta was not an anonymous donor, the Kansas Department for Children and Families demanded he pay child support.

Schreiner and Bauer purport themselves to be the child’s parents, but the judge disagreed. Because proper protocol was not followed in the insemination, the judge said Marotta cannot be considered just a donor. Specifically, they did not follow state law which requires the use of a physician for artificial insemination and the signing of certain documents. The judge stated, “The court is bound by the ordinary meaning and plain language of (state law) and it may not look the other way simply because the parties intended a different result than that afforded by the statute.”

It is unknown whether Marotta will appeal the ruling.

Children and Identity Theft

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A new law, effective this New Year’s Day, will make it more difficult for children to become the victims of identity theft or credit card abuse.  Senate Bill 60 is the result of a recent rise in children being targeted for such offenses.

A child’s social security number can be used by identity thieves to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live.

Children are an especially vulnerable population to identity thieves, who consider a child’s personal identifying information more valuable than that of an adult.  This is because adults are more likely to be keeping tabs on their information. Adults monitor bank statements, pay bills, shop with their credit cards, all of these things that are likely to alert someone to identity theft.

The new law allows parents to freeze the consumer and credit files of their children 16 year of age or younger.

According to the Federal Trade Commission there are warning signs that your child’s credit has been compromised. For example, you or your child might:

  • be turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number
  • get a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes, or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return
  • get collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive