The Netherlands is set to permit euthanasia for terminally ill preteens as the current legislation surrounding euthanasia is to be expanded to include children under 12.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge told Parliament on Tuesday that “children between the ages of 1 and 12 will likely be granted access to euthanasia,” according to The NL Times.
Euthanasia is currently available in the Northwestern European current for infants up to the age of 1 and above the age of 12. Now, de Jonge’s announcement is set to include preteen children in a move that has caused controversy for Christians and pro-life activists.
The proposal is though to affect “a small group of terminally ill children who agonize with no hope, and unbearable suffering,” according to de Jonge. He added that between five and ten children suffer “as a result in some cases unnecessarily, for a long time, without any prospect of improvement.”
“The great importance of the best possible care for this group of terminally ill children,” de Jonge said.
Currently, children who are terminally cannot be euthanized, but medical professionals are only permitted to administer “palliative care, like sedation, or withhold nutrition” until the young patient passes away. As a result, the current legality of euthanasia for preteens has been pigeonholed as a legal “grey area.” The inclusion of euthanasia for those between age 1-12 is hoped to shed clarity on the legal “grey area.”
It is also hoped that doctors are to become more accountable to parents of terminally ill children, with de Jonge noting that the amendment will serve the interests of children.
The Christian Post noted:
Under what is known as the Groningen Protocol — a 2004 set of Dutch medical directives with criteria under which doctors are allowed to perform “active ending of life on infants” without fear of legal repercussions — babies in the Netherlands can be euthanized for serious disability and terminal illness.
The amendment will also be subject to scrutiny and intense review for terminally ill children and their parents wishing to accept the final treatment.
“In response to the position of the NVK (doctor’s association), I want to ensure more legal safeguards for doctors who, on the basis of their professional standard, proceed with life-ending actions of children aged 1 to 12 years,” de Jong wrote in his four-page brief.
Despite the urge for clarity in a legal “grey area,” pro-life activists voiced concerns over how the parameters defining “terminally ill” could be exploited and expanded.
“Once death is in the driver’s seat, it never hits the brakes,” commented scholar Wesley J. Smith of the Discovery Institute in a recent post, according to The Christian Post.