The Netherlands, one of the most pro-euthanasia countries in the world, is set to allow euthanasia for children of all ages, further expanding its already-expansive program. The plan will be implemented within the year, according to Health Minister Ernst Kuipers. The NL Times reported that the change will not need to have approval from both legislative chambers.
NTD News reported that the Dutch government had announced plans to expand euthanasia to children between one and 12 years old. Currently, children older than 12 or younger than one are eligible to be euthanized; now, children of all ages will be permitted to die by euthanasia.
“This is a very complex subject that deals with harrowing situations that you would not wish on anyone,” Dutch Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said, according to NTD News. “I am pleased that after intensive consultation with all parties involved, we have come to a solution with which we can help these terminally-ill children, their parents and also their practitioners.”
The only children eligible will be terminally ill children, for whom palliative care brings no relief. Yet parents and doctors can make the decision together, if the child is “unable to consent.”
According to The Conversation, “Under the proposal, it will remain against the law for doctors in the Netherlands to actively end the life of a child under the age of 12. However, a force majeure clause gives prosecutors the discretion not to prosecute in exceptional circumstances.”
The program involving infants, which will now be expanded, is called the Groningen Protocol. Enacted in 2004, it allows infant euthanasia if parents and doctors agree, and if the baby is experiencing current suffering of is expected to experience future suffering. As Wesley J. Smith previously explained, when the Netherlands began considering expanding its euthanasia protocol:
There is no reason to think the “terminally ill” limitation will last, much less be enforced. After all, babies in the Netherlands are euthanized under the Groningen Protocol, both because of terminal illness and serious disability.
Children are already subjected to terminal sedation — that is, being put in an artificial coma and dehydrated to death.
As it stands, the Netherlands already is seeing records deaths from euthanasia. There was a 14% increase in euthanasia deaths from 2021 to 2022, with 8,720 people having been euthanized last year. Increasing numbers of couples were allowed to be euthanized together, and 115 people were killed simply due to psychiatric illness.
Considering that the Netherlands seems eager to increasingly embrace euthanasia, it is unsurprising that the percentage of deaths made up of people killed by their doctors is rising as well. Rather than seeing it as a tragedy to be avoided, this increase in euthanasia deaths was celebrated by Dutch politicians.
Editor’s Note 4/25/23: This article was updated to include more details.
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