When a doctor gives a lethal injection to a suffering infant, regardless of his motivation, he is killing that child; he and other adults have decided that child is better off dead. We used to understand how wrong that is.
The Dutch government is preparing to legalize euthanasia for children between the ages of one and twelve.
Last year, the Dutch Ministry of Health commissioned a report from the NVK (Dutch Society of Pediatrics), which recommended the government permit euthanasia for terminally ill children of one to twelve years of age. The report included a survey of 72 doctors employed at prominent hospitals specializing in medical training. The majority stated that it is morally acceptable to euthanize preteen children who are suffering without prospect of improvement if their parents request it. Many surveyed parents also supported the proposal. This week, Hugo de Jonge, Dutch health minister and deputy prime minister, informed the Dutch Parliament that the government will be moving forward to draft and implement legislation for the new regulations proposed in the report.
When parliament reviewed this report in 2019, a majority of MPs supported the recommendation. But at the time, de Jonge stated that the cabinet needed time to respond.
Children under the age of one with a terminal prognosis can already be euthanized in the Netherlands under the 2004 Groningen Protocol, which one journal described as an attempt “to regulate the practice of actively ending the life of newborns and to prevent uncontrolled and unjustified killing.” Children between the ages of twelve and fifteen can request euthanasia but must have the permission of their parents. Teenagers of sixteen or seventeen are required to inform their parents if they request euthanasia.
The Dutch government is now moving to make it legal for children between the ages of one and twelve. Dutch law currently does not permit this, although the horrifying (and often lengthy) process of ending a life by withholding nutrition is sometimes allowed. Euthanizing infants is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but the Groningen Protocol has served as a devil’s bargain between medical professionals and prosecutors. If doctors follow the Groningen Protocol when they kill an infant, prosecutors do not file charges.