Dutch Hospital That Kills Newborns Via Euthanasia Says Practice Widespread

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 14, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Dutch Hospital That Kills Newborns Via Euthanasia Says Practice Widespread

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 14, 2004

Amsterdam, Netherlands (LifeNews.com)
— A Dutch hospital that made international headlines earlier this month by revealing that it established guidelines for doctors to euthanize newborn babies it considered too sick to live claims the practice is widespread.

The Groningen Academic Hospital says the practice of killing infants that are deemed to physically deformed or too ill to survive very long on their own is already happening across the globe.

In a statement released Friday, according to the Cybercast News Service, Dr. Eduard Verhagen, of the hospital’s pediatric clinic, said that "worldwide, the U.S. included, many deaths among newborns are based on end-of-life decisions, after physicians reached the conclusion that there was no quality of life."

Verhagen also said he had the support of the country’s eight teaching hospitals in asking the Netherlands Ministry of Health to put together a panel to evaluate when euthanasia can be used on people "with no free will."

Groningen has killed three babies this year via euthanasia and has ended the lives of infants in previous years as well.

In the statement, the hospital also claims that Dutch doctors support ending the lives of severely ill infants they feel are not capable of surviving.

Meanwhile, the Dutch government is preparing a proposal for the nation’s parliament to consider early next year that would provide guidelines for the euthanasia of children.

The current legal standards in place only address patients who can decide whether they want to live or die.

Those standards indicate the patient must freely choose to die and make such a request on several occasions. The patient must be in severe pain and the patient’s doctor must get a second opinion from another physician agreeing to the request.

"Right now, if a doctor puts an end to the life of a very ill newborn, even at the request of the parents, he can be prosecuted," spokesman Richard Lancee told CNS News.

However, the Dutch government has not taken any actions against Groningen or its staff despite the admission that it has been euthanizing children for years.

Bert Dorenbos of the Dutch pro-life group Cry for Life told CNS that it strongly opposes expanding the pro-euthanasia law saying that it will establish a right to kill people.

"It’s another step on the slippery slope of Holland’s euthanasia and abortion programs," Dorenbos said.

Verhagen has said that the babies who had been euthanized were born with incurable conditions so serious "(we) felt that the most humane course would be to allow the child to die and even actively assist them with their death."

"They are very rare cases of extreme suffering. In these cases, the diagnosis was extreme spina bifada," Verhagen added.

However, spina bifada can be diagnosed during pregnancy and some unborn children have had surgery to correct the damage the condition causes.

Three years ago, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia.

Teenagers under the age of 16 must have their parents approval, but the proposed measure would drop that to 12 years of age and would allow children to be euthanized.