By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
As Ireland debates legalizing euthanasia and New Zealand citizens are posed to vote on a euthanasia referendum, the government of the Netherlands is considering expanding their euthanasia law to include children (1 – 12 years) and people who are not sick or dying but are “tired of living” [“completed life”].
The NL Times reported that the Netherlands Coalition government is fighting over a proposal to extend the euthanasia law to include children. The NL Times reports
The Rutte III cabinet [the current government of the Netherlands named after the Prime Minister] is clashing over a plan to allow doctors to provide euthanasia for terminally ill children between the ages of 1 and 12 who are suffering unbearably. The D66 and VVD [two political parties] support this plan. But the Christian parties, ChristenUnie in particular, are vehemently opposed, AD [a Dutch daily newspaper] reports.
The only requirement for euthanizing children as young as 12 would be that the parents, or guardians, have consented. After the age of 16, the person can consent to euthanasia themselves.
According to AD, doctors are only allowed to give palliative sedation to children in this age group, or allow them to die by withholding nutrition, which can be a lengthy process.
Last year the government had a report drawn up to feel out support for euthanasia for terminally ill children. A large part of doctors, parents and a majority in parliament, including the VVD and D66, were in favor. The report also showed that there are a handful of cases per year of children suffering unbearably and hopelessly while they wait for their illness to take them.
At the other end of the age spectrum, earlier this year, a bill to extend euthanasia in the Netherlands to people who are healthy, but “tired of living” was submitted by the D66 party.
Another article in the NL Times reported that
The legislative proposal allows people over the age of 75 who feel that they have come to the end of their life and have a persistent wish to die to ask for euthanasia.
Euthanasia laws seem to naturally expand over time. Once you allow killing for one reason, there becomes many reasons to kill.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.