Vatican Official Blasts Dutch Euthanasia for Children Proposal

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 3, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Vatican Official Blasts Dutch Euthanasia for Children Proposal

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 3, 2004

The Vatican ( — A leading Catholic official is blasting a proposal in the Netherlands that would allow children under the age of 12 to request assisted suicide.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, the vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, condemned the idea saying "the final boundary will have been crossed" in disrespect for the sanctity of human life.

"No one can claim such homicidal responsibility for himself or for another person. No authority can legitimately impose or permit it. This is a violation of divine law, an offense at the dignity of the human person, a crime against a life and an attack against humanity," the papal representative said.

Bishop Sgreccia warned of a "moral relativism" that has "anesthetized society," and said that modern medicine is wrongly focusing on costs rather than the welfare of the patient.

Approved in 2002, Dutch law allows adult patients suffering from incurables diseases to request assisted suicide. Teenagers under the age of 16 must have their parents approval, but the newly proposed law would drop that to 12 years of age.

Bishop Sgreccia’s comments, which appeared in the newspaper l’Osservatore Romano, said that children that young can’t provide valid consent.

The Vatican official said the Dutch law is rapidly moving away from assisted suicide and towards euthanasia. Many residents of the European nation wear arm bracelets telling doctors not to end their lives prematurely.

Sgreccia said that Catholic teaching on end of life issues and its opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide is "well known, constantly repeated, and confirmed."

"We must repeat with the utmost firmness that nothing and no one can give permission to kill an innocent human being, whether he be a fetus, an embryo, a child, an adult, an old person or a sick person in incurable agony," wrote Sgreccia.

Expanding on the Catholic Church’s pro-life policies on assisted suicide and euthanasia, the Pope in March said that removing the feeding tube of a disabled patient is immoral and amounts to "euthanasia by omission."

Pope John Paul II also said that the lexicon used to describe such patients — as being in a "vegetative state" was degrading and inhuman.