Dutch paediatricians are backing euthanasia for children aged from 1 to 12. In a position paper released on June 19, the NVK (the Dutch Paediatricians’ Association) recommended that deliberate termination of life be available when palliative care is ineffective.
“We feel that an arbitrary age limit such as 12 should be changed,” said Professor Eduard Verhagen, of Groningen University, a long-time champion of euthanasia for children. “Each child's ability to ask to die should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”
Belgium has already removed the age limit on euthanasia and the Netherlands is lagging behind. Under the current rules, children between 12 and 16 must have parental approval, while euthanasia is banned for those under 12 – except for children under 12 months, who can be euthanased involuntarily.
“If a child under 12 satisfies the same conditions, paediatricians are currently powerless. It's time to address this problem,” said Professor Verhagen.
The guidelines suggest that the NVK does not believe that anyone will abuse the proposed protocols. “The NVK considers it a great good that the process of decision-making about the end of life is so careful in our country,” they say.
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