Dutch Euthanasia Doctor Admits to Killing 4 Newborns With Lethal Injections

By Hilary White

By Hilary White

GRONINGEN, April 27, 2005 ( - The UK news magazine, the Evening Standard, reports an extraordinary confession today by a Dutch doctor who admits to having euthanized disabled newborns. Dutch paediatrician Eduard Verhagen is in the forefront of a push to have the euthanasia of infants made legal in order to protect doctors who are already doing it. He admitted that he had given lethal injections to four babies born with spina bifida, a condition that is sometimes correctable by pre-natal surgery.

Verhagen said, “All four babies had spina bifida - not the usual type, but severely affected children where this was not the only problem. They were in constant pain. In the last minutes or seconds you see the pain relax and they fall asleep ... at the end, after the injection, their fists unclench and there is relief for everyone in the room. Finally they get what they should have been given earlier.”

However, doctors who specialize in pain treatment have repeatedly pointed out that new pain control medications have effectively eliminated the pretext of uncontrollable pain as an excuse for euthanasia.

Verhagen, who works at Groningen University Medical Centre, is one of a group of doctors who has proposed what is being called the Groningen Protocol to decide how much a child has to be suffering to be considered worthy of being killed by lethal injection. In a recent interview on National Public Radio Verhagen said, “We felt that in these children the most humane course of action would be to allow the child to die, and even actively assist them in their death….And in extreme cases, the best way to protect life is to sometimes assist a little bit in death.”

Peter Singer, the notorious Chair of Bioethics at prestigious Princeton University is famous for having advocated infanticide. Singer’s seminal book, Practical Ethics, laid out a scheme where human beings must earn their ‘personhood’ and can lose it if they are disabled, elderly or otherwise ‘useless’ or incapacitated. In traditional ethics, a ‘person’ is a living human being. But the new ‘bioethics’ is opening the medical establishment to the idea, based on a philosophy called Utilitarianism, that human beings are merely disposable biological machines.

In Bioethics, the utilitarian principle that suffering is the worst possible evil, is being fully realized in Holland where legalized euthanasia has many afraid to go to hospitals. Rumours and more reliable first-hand reports have been common for years of Dutch people carrying cards that ask hospital staff not to kill them. Some report that they prefer to go to Germany or Belgium for medical treatment.

In most countries, including Canada and the UK, the issue of legalizing euthanasia, with ‘safeguards’ based on the Dutch model, is being openly debated, with many in the medical profession advocating in its favour.

Verhagen summed up the eugenics/Bioethics principle saying, “Death can be more humane than continued life if (life) involves extreme suffering.”

Read related coverage:

Dutch Say Child Euthanasia Happening Around the World

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