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Russian adoption ban could expand to countries with legalized child euthanasia

Published time: February 17, 2014 09:47
Protesters, who call themselves the "yellow jackets", hold banners and placards as they demonstrate against a new law authorizing euthanasia for children, in Brussels February 11, 2014. (Reuters / Laurent Dubrule)

Protesters, who call themselves the "yellow jackets", hold banners and placards as they demonstrate against a new law authorizing euthanasia for children, in Brussels February 11, 2014. (Reuters / Laurent Dubrule)

Lower House MPs have asked the Foreign Ministry to study the recently passed law allowing child euthanasia in Belgium in order to decide if its citizens should be legally banned from adopting Russian kids.

The initiative comes from Deputy Roman Khudyakov of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. The politician told the mass circulation daily Izvestia that he wrote to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asking him to investigate the situation.

Before we continue cooperation with Belgium allowing our children to be adopted by their citizens we should understand on what grounds a child can be killed in this country and if there is a danger for our kids to lose their lives in a foreign country,” the lawmaker said.

Khudyakov added that the majority of Russian children’s rights groups and religious organizations would support the ban on adoption of Russian children by Belgians. The lawmaker also added that he would never vote for a bill that would allow the authorities to take decisions that can only be taken by God.

Russia has already passed a bill that seriously restricts adoption by Belgians. In mid-February 2014 Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree banning the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples, as well as by unmarried citizens of countries where same-sex marriage is legal. The law applies to Belgium as this country legalized same-sex unions in 2003, but traditionally married Belgian couples can still hope to adopt a Russian child.

But last week the lower house of the Belgian parliament voted to allow euthanasia for terminally ill children. The bill was supported by most parliamentary parties with only the Christian Democrats voting against it. The law states that children seeking euthanasia must be terminally ill, rather than just in an unbearable state of suffering, the same as the qualification for adults. Adult euthanasia was legalized in Belgium in 2002.

The bill has to be signed by the King to come into force. Currently the leaders of Belgium’s Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities issued a joint declaration wanting the bill to be stopped. They are currently collecting signatures to get it overturned.

The controversy over the Belgian child euthanasia law spread to Russia. A representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Vladimir Vigilyanskiy has called the bill “an open challenge to God.” The Russian cleric said that as children are easy to persuade, the introduction of such a law could “lead to a sequence of mass child deaths” that could even be outside the officially suggested conditions.

Euthanasia in Russia is completely illegal. Moreover, in 2012 the legislature of Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg suggested a federal bill that would allow doctors to override the refusal of patients or guardians to undergo medical procedures, such as blood transfusion, if there is a threat to human life. The bill has not been passed yet.

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