TORONTO, Aug. 11 ( – The Netherlands, the world’s most aggressive advocate of euthanasia,  will make it legal to kill children as young as—or as old as—12 years of age. A Reuters report cites the Justice and Health ministries as saying that “in the case of 12 to 15 year olds the consent of the parents or guardian is required, but in the event of refusal … a minor’s request may nevertheless be met if the doctor is convinced this would prevent serious detriment to the patient.”

The new law, which went to the country’s lower house on Monday, is seen by many as little more than a formality since the killing of elderly and handicapped, as well as simply depressed, individuals has been openly practised for several years without prosecution. The bill recognizes for the first time the validity of written requests to die, notes Reuters. A key aspect of the bill, though, is the proposed immunity from criminal prosecution for doctors who follow stipulated guidelines when “euthanasing” their patients.

Reuters notes that political opposition is expected from “the main opposition Christian Democrats and small Calvinist parties,” but notes that there is enough support for this expanded euthanasia among the country’s three governing parties to see the law passed. But,  “the plans should encourage activism by pro-life opponents who have been lulled into a 'spiritual slumber’,” said a prominent anti-euthanasia activist, as reported by Steve Ertelt of Pro-Life Infonet.

“A child of 12 can’t make decisions about trivial things,” Bert Dorenbos, leader of the largest Dutch pro-life group, Cry for Life, observed Tuesday. “Now he can decide about his own life or death,” he said, referring to a shocking statement by Karin Hagelstein,  spokesman for the Royal Dutch Medical Association. She claimed: “Doctors find that children who have gone through such a long and tragic illness are capable of making their own decisions. A child which has entered the last terminal phase can be very clear about what he or she wants. They’ve seen a lot, they’re tired. If parents don’t want to cooperate it is the doctor’s duty to respect the wishes of their patient.”