Christian Doctors Group Responds to Dutch Euthanasia of Children

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 10, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Christian Doctors Group Responds to Dutch Euthanasia of Children

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 10, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Responding to a just-published article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the head of the nation’s largest faith-based association of physicians today responded to revelations that Dutch doctors now openly euthanize infants.

Earlier this week, doctors in the Netherlands have admitted to killing twenty newborn infants they say were too disabled to survive.

They are presenting details of the euthanasia bids to the Dutch government with the hopes of sparking a national debate on whether euthanasia should be legalized to include children.

David Stevens, M.D., executive director of the 17,000-member Christian Medical Association, said, "The tragic irony is that Dutch doctors once risked their lives to oppose the Nazi euthanasia program. Dutch euthanasia doctors today indignantly contrast their motives with the Nazis’, yet there is little difference in the final result between the involuntary euthanasia of Dutch infants and non-consenting adults and the Nazi euthanasia program.

"In just a few generations since World War II, the Netherlands has slid from firm opposition to medical killing to tolerating it illegally to endorsing it in law and now to expanding it to children. On the face of it, Dutch euthanasia is all about pain and suffering and patient autonomy, but in reality, Dutch euthanasia is all about money, convenience and physician autonomy," Dr. Stevens explained.

Dutch law allows people over the age of 12 to declare that they want to end their lives via assisted suicide.

Whether to allow euthanasia for children — and for people who cannot make their own medical decisions — has become the subject of international debate after Dutch doctors admitted to killing the newborns last year.

The Dutch Journal of Medicine confirmed last month that at least 22 newborn babies have been euthanized in the European country since 1997.

However, Dr. Stevens says those reports don’t touch on thousands of unreported cases of involuntary euthanasia of Dutch people.

"Once promoted as the ultimate exercise in autonomy, the published evidence of thousands of involuntary medically induced deaths makes it clear that euthanasia is the fastest way to lose one’s autonomy," Stevens said.

"Dutch euthanasia activists like to say they keep euthanasia out in the open and not behind closed doors," Dr. Stevens explained. "Yet after the evidence came to light that Dutch doctors were killing nearly 1,000 patients a year without the patients’ consent, they simply shrugged their shoulders and mused that the patients would have wanted to die anyway."

Dutch officials would not say whether there would be any legal action. The Dutch government has been criticized by disabled activists and pro-life groups worldwide for not prosecuting the doctors involved.

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