Skip to comments.Bitter irony: children once again to be euthanized in Belgium/Netherlands 70 years after Nazis
Posted on 06/18/2013 6:30:37 PM PDT by NYer
June 18, 2013 (PJSaunders) - In this last week both Belgium and the Netherlands have taken major steps towards euthanasia for children.
A consensus among members of the Belgian Federal Parliament has reportedly formed in support of legislation to allow children to choose to undergo euthanasia in certain dire cases, according to a report in the Belgian daily newspaper Der Morgen, as translated by the Paris-based news agency Presseurop.
If child euthanasia is legalized in Belgium, the country would become the first in the developed world to have a law on the books formally allowing the practice.
Belgium became the second country in the world after the Netherlands to legalize euthanasia in 2002, but the statute currently extends only to people 18 or older.
The bill, introduced by the Socialist party last December, lays out guidelines for doctors to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not a child is mature enough to make the decision to end his or her own life, as well as whether a child's health is grave and hopeless enough to warrant euthanasia.
"The idea is to update the law to take better account of dramatic situations and extremely harrowing cases we must find a response to," Socialist party leader Thierry Giet said shortly after the bill was introduced, according to Agence France-Presse.
"On both sides of the linguistic border, liberals and socialists appear to agree on the fact that age should not be regarded as a decisive criterion in the event of a request for euthanasia," Der Morgen wrote last week.
The decision to consider the bill follows months of testimony by medical experts, doctors, clergy members and others, and it marks a turning point in the nation's approach to the rights of young people, some of whom would be able to choose to die if the law were to pass, even while still being legally barred from driving, marrying, voting or drinking liquor until they turned 18.
The bill would also likely allow euthanasia for patients suffering from Alzheimer's and other diseases leading to advanced dementia, who may otherwise be deemed incompetent to make the decision to die. There were 1,133 cases of euthanasia recorded in Belgium in 2011, accounting for about 1 percent of the country's deaths that year, according to AFP.
Peter Deconinck, president of the Belgian medical ethics organization Reflectiegroep Biomedische Ethiek, has come out in support of expanding the practice to minors, as has the head of the intensive care unit of Fabiola Hospital in Brussels, who testified before a Belgian Senate committee.
"We all know that euthanasia is already practiced on children," he told the committee. "Yes, active euthanasia."
A majority of members of the Belgian Parliament are reportedly ready to pass the child euthanasia bill.
In a separate move the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), which represents doctors in the Netherlands, has said that distress felt by parents can justify euthanasia of a dying newborn.
The Netherlands has since 2005 not prosecuted doctors who perform euthanasia on some minors as long as the doctors act in accordance with a set of medical guidelines dubbed the Groningen Protocol, drafted by Dr Eduard Verhagen in 2004.
Verhagen reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 2005 on 22 babies with spina bifida who were given lethal injections under the protocol over a seven year period.
However, in a new policy document, ‘Medical decisions about the lives of newborns with severe abnormalities’ (in Dutch only) the KNMG now explains why it is acceptable, and perhaps even necessary, to euthanase children.
What is new about this statement is that it says that the parents’ suffering may be a reason to kill the newborn.
Amongst other conditions, the policy states that a lethal injection of muscle relaxant is ethically possible when "the period of gasping and dying persists and the inevitable death is prolonged, in spite of good preparation, and it causes severe suffering for the parents."
Dr Verhagen, who is also one of the authors of the recent KNMG report, explained to Volkskrant, a leading Dutch newspaper, why parental anguish is relevant.
Doctors should spare parents the ‘abomination’ of seeing their child die in distress, he argues. It is part of good palliative care.
The criteria for euthanasing newborns are as follows (from page 54 of the report): if the child is suffering, if it cannot express its own wishes, if death is inevitable and if the dying process is prolonged, then the child may be euthanased in order to spare the parents further severe suffering.
Of the 175,000 babies born every year in The Netherlands, the KNMG suggests that about 650 might be cases which would be worthy of euthanasia.
‘These babies, despite very intensive treatment, will certainly die in the short term. They have a poor prognosis and a very bleak life perspective. They may not be dependent on intensive care but they face a life of serious and hopeless suffering. Doctors and parents face the exceedingly profound question of whether to start or continue treatment or even whether a good action may actually be a harm, in view of the suffering and disability that may result from the poor health of the child.’
These disturbing latest developments in the two countries which were the first to legalise euthanasia in Europe demonstrate graphically the incremental extension that takes place once the door is opened and the public conscience begins to change.
The acceptance of two key concepts is what makes this extension inevitable – first it is accepted that there is such a thing as a life not worth living and second that the active ending of a person’s life is justified in order to lessen the suffering of others.
It was these two principles that were used to justify the killing an infant with limb abnormalities and congenital blindness (named Knauer) with parental consent by Dr Karl Brandt in neighbouring Germany in 1939.
This 'test-case' paved the way for the registration of all children under three years of age with 'serious hereditary diseases'. This information was then used by a panel of 'experts', including three medical professors (who never saw the patients), to authorise death by injection or starvation of some 6,000 children by the end of the Second World War.
The euthanasia programme in Nazi Germany, later headed by the same Karl Brandt, did not begin in prison camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka. It began far more subtly with doctors in hospitals and its very first victims were children who were killed on supposedly compassionate grounds.
It is bitterly ironic that child euthanasia is happening again seventy years later on the very same grounds in two countries that share a common border with Germany.
Baby killers in wooden shoes.
I say give it about 5 years, over 5,000 per year will be being euthanized.
They always fudge the numbers to get what they want.
“liberals and socialists appear to agree “
Belgians have such a wide array of political choices.
I want off this rock!
Nah, it’s not euthanasia - it’s just a VERY late term abortion.
First, babies aren’t human beings, then children aren’t human beings.
Then it’s Jews and gypsies, and Katie bar the door.
Seems no one learned anything from World War II.
Doctors should spare parents the abomination of seeing their child die in distress, he argues. It is part of good palliative care.
This will also ensure that the parents slowly lose mental balance and sanity after deciding to murder their child.
This, in its turn, makes the parents more easily controlled by the state.
How does a child "choose" euthanasia?
Shortly after my marriage we rented an upper flat in Detroit. The girl next door was 10 and born with club feet, dislocated hips and no arms...she was sweet and I watched her play kick ball in the street with the other kids. One day I was hanging clothes in the back yard and she was sitting in her sand box, dressing and undressing her dolls with her toes...Her mother told me they get her artificial arms but she doesn’t like to wear them...nothing in life will hold that girl back. That was back in 1959...She would find a way to do anything she wanted...
Nothing ironic about it. Both these countries were relatively receptive to Nazi ideology and indeed the Nazi hegemony. Divisions of Belgians ended up volunteering for the Waffen SS and serving Das Reich on the Eastern Front.
A little background here, Nederland and Belgium were woefully short on doctors at the end of WWII so they let these German doctors in without looking at them real hard ~ and they set the ethical standard for Dutch medical practice for the next 70 years ~ and here they are, euthenizing children!
The way this is described by Dutch speakers is that 'our medical system is very modern' ~ and I think that's a separate problem. Too many Dutch are dumb as a board.
Looks like the Nazis won the war.
At first the “children” will make the choice. Later the “children” will be pressured to do the right thing for the good of the collective. Finally, the KNMG Death Panels will make the economic viability assessments and make the decision to kill them.
“Euthanasia of these children won’t be easy. Some people have taken to hiding them in secret passages in their homes, or even their attics. But the authorities will find them. They always do.”
Coming soon to America under obamacare death panels.
The final scenes of "The Diary of Anne Frank" come to mind.
I agree...when is the pendulum going to start back again?
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