Dutch to set guidelines for euthanasia of babies

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by -Cp, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. -Cp
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    -Cp Senior Member

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    AMSTERDAM - The Dutch government intends to expand its current euthanasia policy, setting guidelines for when doctors may end the lives of terminally ill newborns with the parents’ consent.

    A letter outlining the new directives will be submitted to parliament for discussion by mid-October, but the new policy will not require a vote or change of law, Dutch Health Ministry spokeswoman Annette Dijkstra told The Associated Press on Thursday.

    The Netherlands became the first nation to legalize euthanasia for adults under some conditions in 2001, and the latest move is likely to spark an outcry from the Vatican, right-to-life proponents and advocacy groups for the handicapped.
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    Euthanasia is banned in most countries, although Belgium legalized it under strict conditions in 2002. Switzerland allows passive assistance to terminally ill people who have expressed a wish to die.

    In the United States, Oregon is alone in allowing physician assisted suicide, but its law is under constant challenge and the U.S. Supreme Court is to hear arguments against it Wednesday.

    The change in Dutch policy is especially significant because it will provide the model for how the country treats other cases in which patients are unable to say whether they want to live or die, such as those involving the mentally retarded or elderly people who have become demented.

    The governing conservative Christian Democrat party — which fought legalization when it was in the opposition — will embrace the guidelines, known as the Groningen Protocol, drawn up last year by doctors at the Groningen University Medical Center.

    Under the protocol, euthanasia would be permissible when a child is terminally ill with no prospect of recovery and suffering great pain, when two sets of doctors agree the situation is hopeless and when parents give their consent.

    The Dutch Health Ministry has postponed this decision several times and wishes to control the release of information around the policy change, which is still being finalized.

    But Dijkstra confirmed the broad lines of the guidelines after details began leaking to the Dutch press and to some members of the medical community who have been involved in the long-running debate over the issue.

    'Prone to abuse'
    The government will establish a vetting commission — modeled on commissions currently in place for adult euthanasia — to determine whether conditions have been met in each case and to refer the case to public prosecutors if they do not. But unlike with adult euthanasia, prosecutors will not be bound to follow the commission’s judgment that conditions have been satisfied.

    “The public prosecutor’s office will always make an independent decision,” Dijkstra said. “The ending of a life must occur with the utmost of caution.”

    American ethicist and pediatrician Dr. Chris Feudtner of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said he hoped the Dutch government would rethink its position.

    “I admire the Dutch desire for openness in addressing what is an incredibly difficult issue, but I categorically do not endorse ending people’s lives with the argument that it’s alleviating their suffering,” he told the AP.

    “I think too often the impulse is to resort to extreme measures because we’re not being effective enough in the management of pain.”

    He said removing life support is a possibility in cases parallel to that of coma patient Terri Schiavo, for instance if a child is born with just the stem of a brain. But active euthanasia is “prone to abuse,” he said.

    “If you allow it to occur, it will occur in cases where it is not ethical, period,” he said.

    The Netherlands set up adult euthanasia vetting commissions in 1998, well before the practice was formally legalized under a 2001 law, which took effect the following year.

    The commissions report about 2,000 people are euthanized in this country of 16 million each year, using a mix of sedatives and a lethal dose of muscle relaxant. But independent studies suggest the number of unreported cases is higher.

    Cases of euthanasia for “people with no free will” — such as infants and severely demented or retarded people — were left in a legal gray area by the law because they were so controversial.

    They remain classified as murder, and doctors who carried out such killings were required to report themselves to the authorities for potential prosecution.

    Government-sponsored studies in the 1990s and repeated in 2001 estimated there are 15 to 20 such infant killings in any year. Just 22 cases were reported to the Justice Ministry between 1997 and 2004 — most involving infants with severe damage to the brain and spine from spina bifida — and the ministry decided against prosecuting any of them.

    The decision was based on precedents set when doctors were taken to court for euthanizing elderly patients and were either acquitted or found to have acted in good conscience. Judges ruled the level of guilt was so small it did not merit punishment.

    The main author of the protocol, Dr. Eduard Verhagen, said it was intended to remove the confusion surrounding what is permissible.

    “We think the decision is of such incredible importance that the social responsibility of the doctor should be openly discussed and assessed,” he said.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9532252/
     
  2. Avatar4321
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    Avatar4321 Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I have some good standards: Don't do it!
     
  3. Hobbit
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    Hobbit Senior Member

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    See, this is the kind of crap that comes from what most leftists see as the most enlightened country. They have legal hookers, legal pot, and now, legal infanticide. Yep, enlightened by the glow from the end of the joint.
     
  4. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    What was that thread about 'slippery slopes'?
     
  5. Powerman
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    Powerman Active Member

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    Honestly...legal prostitution and pot I'm cool with...

    Infanticide is not cool...but that's why I don't like the bible...just joking hobbit. I'll stand by your side on this one.
     
  6. MissileMan
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    MissileMan Senior Member

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    I still don't understand why some people embrace a long, slow, agonizing death when we have the ability to end the suffering. The people doing most of the squawking aren't the ones in misery. If a mother and father, based on the medical information given to them, decide that their newborn is better off dead, why can't it be accepted as the act of love and mercy that it is?
     
  7. Hobbit
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    Hobbit Senior Member

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    Because there's one person who gets no input...the child. There have been several terminally ill children who, when they matured enough to understand what was happening to them, decided that they wanted to devote what life they have to making the world a better place. I seem to recall a child who died of AIDS before he even hit age 10 speaking in many venues about his disease and drawing attention towards fighting it. There's also the children at St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis. They only take terminally ill children, but my aunt works there and tells you that all of them prefer being alive and find great comfort in the fact that the research the doctors do on them, even if it doesn't cure them, will help lead to a cure for others.

    Now, I'm against human euthenasia in pretty much any form, but the idea of mercy killing at the bidding of the person to be killed is not an entirely unpallettable idea. I can understand why you'd want to, and while I think it's wrong, I don't know how I would react in such a situation. However, I belive that it's not may place to tell another person their life is not worth living. If somebody can't say whether or not they want to be killed, keep them alive.
     
  8. Mr. P
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    Mr. P Senior Member

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    I’ve seen the heart wrenching process that some friends had to endure with their 10 year old son. The boy had an inoperable brain tumor. He was in pain. In the end he lapsed into a coma and the only option they had was to remove the feeding tube and let him die slowly.
    I don’t know if they would have chosen a faster end, other means, or not, but it would have been their choice to make, and theirs alone, IMO.
     
  9. MissileMan
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    MissileMan Senior Member

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    Until the child reaches adulthood, most decisions are made by the parents, the child doesn't get an input. You make it sound like people are going to be racing to the nearest hospital to have their kids put down.
     
  10. Hobbit
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    Hobbit Senior Member

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    I am simply of the belief that if anyone should be allowed to determine that someone's life isn't worth living, it should be that person, and that person alone. Many people have been born, lived, and died under the conditions used to justify abortion and infant euthenasia, and frankly, they would be insulted that you would think their life wasn't worth living. Look at Stephen Hawking. He's paralyzed and unable to speak, yet he's one of the most brilliant and most successful physicists ever to live. Aren't any of you afraid that if you just kill a baby whose life "isn't worth living" that you'd be killing the next Beethoven (deaf), Stephen Hawking, or some other great genius? Sure, it may seem merciful, but tell me something. Looking back over your whole life and everything you've seen and done during your life. Now, let's suppose for a second that you found out that due to something 100% unpreventable, that you would die a slow and painful death. Now, let's suppose for a minute that God appears to you and gives you an option. You can continue to live out your life, or God can use him omnipotence to fix it so that you were aborted or killed right out of the womb. What would you choose? Would you choose to opt out of life? Would you choose to give up every moment from that day to this and never live the experiences of your life just to avoid an unpleasant end? Sorry, but I'll take the ups with the downs, and as someone who constantly has the prospect of one of the most painful deaths in existence (cancer) constantly hanging over my head, well, I think you get the point.
     

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