Netherlands Backs Euthanasia For Terminally Ill Children Under 12
Politicians in the Netherlands have approved plans to allow terminally ill children between the ages of one and 12 to undergo euthanasia.
Euthanasia is currently legal in the Netherlands for children above the age of 12, as long as they have consent from both the patient and their parents. It is also legal for babies under the age of one, again with the parents’ permission.
Now, it’s hoped that changing the rules to encompass children between one and 12 would prevent some children from ‘suffering hopelessly and unbearably’, according to Health Minister Hugo de Jonge.
The controversial subject has prompted months of debate among the Dutch government, which consists of a four-party coalition.
Eventually, politicians managed to agree on the approval of the plans, however de Jonge will now need to draft new regulations to come with the practice.
As per BBC, de Jonge wrote a letter to the Dutch parliament that read:
The study shows that there is a need for active termination of life among doctors and parents of incurably ill children, who are suffering hopelessly and unbearably and will die within the foreseeable future.
He went on to say that around five to 10 children would be affected by the rule change.
The new rules wouldn’t require new laws to be made. Instead, doctors would be made exempt from prosecution related to carrying out euthanasia on children between the ages of one and 12.
Just like the current laws that apply to children above the age threshold, parents would need to consent to the procedure and at least two doctors would need to agree that the child was enduring ‘unbearable and endless suffering’.
All being well, the new rule change should come into practice in the Netherlands in the next few months.
Euthanasia by definition is ‘the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma’, and is sometimes referred to as assisted suicide.
It has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002, when it became the first country in the world to legalise the practice, albeit under very strict regulations. A few months later, Belgium followed suit.
Then, in 2014, Belgium became the first country to allow voluntary child euthanasia if they are suffering greatly and have parental consent. The Netherlands later introduced the same rule for children over the age of 12.
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