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(LifeSiteNews) — The Netherlands government confirmed Friday that a plan for the legalization of the medical killing of children between ages 1 and 12 that has been in the works for more than a year will become law before the end of 2023.

The law would permit medically assisted death for children in this age range when there is “unbearable and hopeless physical suffering” in cases that treatment will not help.

The term “euthanasia” has been used by the media, but legally it will be something else: the application of an “end-of-life” protocol decided by medical professionals in agreement with the parents. In ordinary language, however, the term “euthanasia” corresponds to what is being put in place.

Under Dutch law, euthanasia necessarily follows a request from the patient, whether it is a recent request or from advance directives.

The media campaign that preceded this initiative for more than a year – and the complicity of the Dutch press for the most part based on the “relief” of parents, who are portrayed as powerless while facing the ordeal of a child’s illness – are what have made this new transgression possible. It is a slippery slope toward more barbarism and sets aside the natural law inscribed in the heart of every man (but sometimes quite obscured… ) that forbids the killing of the innocent.

The slippery slope of euthanasia

The limits on killing those who suffer (euthanasia) or of those who show up at the wrong time (abortion) has been breached apparently once and for all in the Netherlands.

Dutch laws led to 1-in-20 deaths in the country being considered euthanasia-related in 2022. Cases justifying euthanasia include psychological suffering; worsening cognitive illness; multiple complaints (none of which are fatal), dementia accompanied by a previous request for euthanasia; and euthanasia for couples. The euthanasia of minors (from ages 12 to 16 with parental consent, then up to 18 years of age without such consent, although parents must be involved in the discussion) has been possible since the Dutch euthanasia law, the first in the world, came into force in 2002.

For babies under a year old, deliberate medical killing has been possible in the Netherlands since 2004 under the Groningen Protocol set up by pediatricians and court officers in that city to address cases where “the only way to end the pain” or suffering of the child would be to “let the patient die according to careful procedures” without incurring a murder charge.

The Groningen Protocol for minors of 12 years and less

However, the expression Groningen Protocol merely seeks to distinguish the practice from euthanasia, which is performed at the request of the patient. In reality, the Groningen Protocol allows for killing or “letting die” through lack of care without being subject to the requirements of the euthanasia law itself.

In practice, in the 20 years or so that this protocol has existed, between 20 and 100 children under a year old have been driven to death with the consent of their parents. It is not known whether these statistics are exhaustive, as this is not “euthanasia” in the legal sense. These acts escape the vigilance of the regional commissions responsible for evaluating every effective case of euthanasia, as the doctor is not obliged to report them. The (relatively) small number is also explained by the possibility of late abortions, which are performed on the basis of prenatal examinations and eliminate unborn children suffering from severe physical or mental handicaps.

The Groningen Protocol provides several ways for ending a baby’s life during its first year: from refusal of life-sustaining care – by far the most frequent case, which could be called slow euthanasia – to so-called “active” killing by the administration of a lethal substance.

‘Chosen death’ for all in the Netherlands

The change called for by Dutch Minister of Health Ernst Kuijpers – and which is expected to be implemented by the executive after the latter has consulted with healthcare providers on possible criteria and protocols for its application – will extend the use of the Groningen Protocol, authorizing an “active end of life” for the “benefit” of children between 1 and 12 but without the sine qua non condition of an expressed personal request.

It will be necessary to have the green light from two doctors and the explicit agreement of both parents in order to proceed. The physician directly responsible for the child will also have to be certain that the end-of-life protocol will not be applied in any way against the child’s personal wishes. An evaluation commission will be responsible, in conjunction with the public prosecutor’s office, for verifying compliance with the legal requirements on a case-by-case basis.

The cabinet letter by which Kuijpers announced his intention notes that in some cases – some 5 to 10 per year – a child suffers in such a way that palliative care is not able to provide relief. In such cases, however, when death is near, deep sedation can be used, and in this case the intention is not necessarily to provide death or to shorten life but to fight pain that is not overcome by any other treatment. However, this solution, which is not immoral in itself, is not accepted by some people. It is by choice, indeed by ideology, that the drift toward euthanasia is taking place.

Similarly, the choice of a purely executive decision on the part of the Cabinet was dictated by the desire not to submit this highly sensitive issue to Parliament, where the coalition that supports the government does not show unity on the subject.

Suffering of children, parents

The examples given to justify deliberate killing are surely horrific. They include a child who screamed for help for three days while beating his head before succumbing to a brain tumor; or children who have near continuous epileptic seizures. The suffering of parents in the face of their child’s experience is obviously part of the equation.

However, it is almost as if euthanasia was the only solution. It is easy to understand why in the Dutch context euthanasia is gradually becoming the norm, or more precisely, a normal thing. Five percent of deaths by euthanasia is a small proportion, but it is enough for each Dutch person to have had a relative, a friend, or a colleague who had a “chosen” death, and for social approval to have spread widely. And there is no reason to improve palliative care in the Netherlands – hence the race toward more and more “mercy” killing.

This is opening the door to the imposition of death on the weakest by justifying it based on the perception of their suffering by third parties. This is in fact a first step toward the large-scale elimination of all those who cannot yet or who can no longer express their own will due to being very young, very old, very handicapped or very ill.

Of course, there is no question that the expression of a person’s will in any way justifies euthanasia or “chosen death.” But the current drift in the Netherlands shows that by legalizing euthanasia the ground has been prepared for death chosen… by others.

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Jeanne Smits has worked as a journalist in France since 1987 after obtaining a Master of Arts in Law. She formerly directed the French daily Présent and was editor-in-chief of an all-internet French-speaking news site called She writes regularly for a number of Catholic journals (Monde & vie, L’Homme nouveau, Reconquête…) and runs a personal pro-life blog. In addition, she is often invited to radio and TV shows on alternative media. She is vice-president of the Christian and French defense association “AGRIF.” She is the French translator of The Dictator Pope by Henry Sire and Christus Vincit by Bishop Schneider, and recently contributed to the Bref examen critique de la communion dans la main about Communion in the hand. She is married and has three children, and lives near Paris.