Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Dutch ponder euthanasia - with a twist

In a scary turn of events, it comes to light that in the Netherlands, not only is euthanasia legal, but can be performed without the subject's permission: (see here for news article, emphasis mine)

Dutch health officials are considering guidelines doctors could follow for euthanizing terminally ill people "with no free will," includingchildren, the severely mentally retarded and patients in irreversible comas.
Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia -- ending the life of someone suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, with their approval. In recent years there also have been reports of mercy killings of terminally ill babies, and officials at one hospital say a number have been carried out there.
The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) has asked the Netherlands Ministry of Health to create an independent board to evaluate euthanasia cases for each category of people "with no free will." < . . .>
There are no official guidelines for ending the lives of those who are unable to make their own decision, such as in the case of a baby, but Groningen Academic Hospital has conducted such procedures under its own, internal guidelines. Dr. Eduard Verhagen, clinical director of the hospital's pediatric clinic, told NPR in an interview that the babies who had been euthanized were born with incurable conditions that were so serious " (we) felt that the most humane course would be to allow the child to die and even actively assist them with their death." < . . .>
"Eric Van Yijlick, project manager for SCEN (Support and Consultation on Euthanasia in the Netherlands), said the Groningen cases involving newborns should be referred to as "life ending without request" rather than euthanasia, because that term indicates the dying party has requested the procedure. Van Yijlick said that to his knowledge, the killing of newborns is not common -- just a few cases yearly. No official statistics exist on terminally ill children's lives being terminated, he said.
Hmmm... as the Diplomads say, here in the USA, "life ending without request" is referred to as murder. So, to recap, by their thinking killing the handicapped or innocent children is okay, but killing convicted murderers is wrong. This is why I don't buy the "moral superiority" of Europe.
UPDATE: Many in the blogosphere are denouncing this, but here is one of the more scathing and well written ones from TCS: (emphasis mine)
This then, is the common thread that binds Singerian ethics, Dutch medicine, and tyranny of all stripes. The weak exist only at the discretion of the strong. Should the weak become troublesome, then they're fair game, be they defective babies, Bosnian Muslims, or non-Arab Sudanese. We in the West may try to cloak our true motives in the language of science and reason, but it's all of the same cloth. Neonatal euthanasia isn't so much a step down the slippery slope to tyranny as it is a wholesale embrace of it.

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