The Netherlands to extend euthanasia to children

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week I wrote that the Netherlands government was debating expanding the euthanasia law to include children (1 – 12).

The Dutchnews.nl reported that Dutch Health Minister announced that the Dutch government will amend the euthanasia law to permit child euthanasia. According to the DutchNews.nl:

Health minister Hugo de Jonge has told MPs in a briefing that work is progressing on plans to make it possible to help terminally sick children aged between one and 12 to die, in limited circumstances. 

The recommendation was made in a report by experts last year, who found that a small group of children may be suffering because doctors are afraid of the consequences of actions that could hasten their deaths. 

De Jonge said that he wants to ensure there are ‘more legal guarantees for doctors’ who take the decision to end the life of a child, as well as transparency for healthcare staff and parents, and protection for the rights of children.

All euthanasia laws are designed to provide legal guarantees for doctors’ who are willing to kill.

 The current Netherlands euthanasia law permits euthanasia for children as young as 12, when parents or guardians consent, people over the age of 16 can consent to euthanasia themselves. The Groningen Protocol already permits euthanasia for newborns in the Netherlands.

The  DutchNews.nl  also reported that the legislation will be introduced after the election.

The party said it was inappropriate to push the significant legislation through with less than a half year remaining until the next election. De Jonge said his proposal will protect the interests of children, and will afford more transparency to the “gray area”. This in turn makes physicians more accountable to parents, and provides a basis for review and assessment of individual cases, which already exists for euthanasia patients of other ages.

Earlier this year, a bill to extend the Netherlands euthanasia law to people who are healthy, but “tired of living” was submitted by Pia Dykstra (D66 party). An article in the July 17th   DutchNews.nl  reported

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.