AMSTERDAM, September 30, 2005 ( – Dutch officials are set to give child euthanasia the go-ahead. The practice is already widespread there with an estimated 15-20 cases per year despite it being illegal. No paediatricians have been prosecuted. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia in 2001.

The governing Christian Democrats said they will approve the Groningen Protocol, the child euthanasia guidelines named after the euthanist doctors from Groningen University Medical Centre. The protocol suggests that euthanasia be permitted when a child is terminally ill with no hope of recovery and in pain, and that parents are in agreement with the opinions of two doctors.

The government plans to set up a commission that will review that all the conditions have been met, or else a public prosecutor will become involved. So far no doctors committing child euthanasia have been prosecuted, even though it is still illegal.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia paediatrician and ethicist Dr. Chris Feudtner told the AP he vehemently opposes the Dutch government’s decision. “I categorically do not endorse ending people’s lives with the argument that it’s alleviating their suffering,” he said. “I think too often the impulse is to resort to extreme measures because we’re not being effective enough in the management of pain. If you allow it to occur, it will occur in cases where it is not ethical, period,” he added.

The vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life roundly condemned the Dutch proposal to extend euthanasia to children under the age of 12 last year. Bishop Elio Sgreccia said that with this policy, “the final boundary will have been crossed.”

See the CP report:

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