Holland to Allow Euthanasia of Disabled Newborn Babies to Go Into Effect

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 6, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Holland to Allow Euthanasia of Disabled Newborn Babies to Go Into Effect Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 6, 2006

Amsterdam, Netherlands (LifeNews.com) — Holland is crossing a line with a new law that has the stomachs of bioethicists worldwide turning inside out because of its moral depravity. A Dutch commission that has been studying setting rules for when doctors are allowed to euthanize severely disabled newborn babies is expected to announce its results in a few weeks.

The guidelines are expected to allow doctors to take measures to kill "seriously suffering" newborn babies they believe will not live even with medical care and attention.

Euthanasia is already legal in the Netherlands and the new practice would allow "baby euthanasia" as well.

Some doctors, like those at University Medical Centre in Groningen, a city in northern Holland, have already been euthanizing disabled babies under protocols the hospital put together. At least 20-25 babies per year have been put to death by doctors who don’t think they will survive anyway.

Eduard Verhagen, clinical director of pediatrics who came up with the euthanasia guidelines, applauded the commission’s expected move.

“It is a giant step forward and we are very happy about it,” he said.

Verhagen’s policies, which are expected to be in place nationwide, allow doctors to kill newborns in cases involving “unbearable suffering" as long as their is parental consent and other doctors are consulted for their input on the baby’s prospects.

Bert Dorenbos, chairman of the Cry for Life organization, told the London Times the practice is "very scary."

“It is a terrible thing,” he said. Under the new guidelines “patients, particularly children, will need protection from euthanasia-minded doctors. It is very worrying indeed."

"It means that doctors will have a freer hand as to whether to end the life of a child or not. It is a slippery slope," he has said about the practice.

Last year, reports showed doctors in Holland had engaged in 22 cases of euthanizing babies with spina bifida, a disabling birth defect affecting the spinal column that has been repaired in surgeries. The doctors were never prosecuted for killing the infants.

Prosecutors said they would not charge the doctors as long as they followed official protocols set up by the Groningen hospital where they worked.

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia for adults. There is no official figure, but estimates indicate thousands of people die from euthanasia annually.