Friday, March 12, 2021

Netherlands group opposes termination of life for children (euthanasia).

Press release - March 12, 2021

The network ‘Bescherm het Kinderleven’ (Protect Children’s Lives) is making a plea against the Proposal by the Dutch government for active termination of life for children age 1 to 12

On the 13th October 2020 the then minister of Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Hugo de Jonge (CDA) announced coming with regulations for active termination of life for seriously ill children ages 1-12. As a reaction on this announcement, a collective of citizens with diverse backgrounds an affiliations have join forces to initiate the network ‘Bescherm het Kinderleven’ (BHK). BHK denounces the plan to allow for regulated termination of life for children. In the coming days the network is launching a social media campaign in which they wil elaborate on the dangers associated with this plan.

Invest in good palliation
The network BHK calls on authorities to invest in better palliative care. Research has shown that inadequacies persist especially in palliation for minors. These express in the realms of communication, organization, decision making, attention for family and child and symptom relief. A deficit amongst physicians in specific knowledge of child palliation has also been indicated. 1 2 

BHK is convicted that the Dutch government makes a mistake in regulating for the termination of lives of children while palliation has yet to be optimized. This way we risk removing the incentive to improve palliation. 

“We should rather work at limiting suffering within the parameters of life” says Henk Reitsema, spokesperson for BHK.

Vulnerable and incapable of informed consent
The network would like to emphasise the vulnerable position that children have. Informed consent without external influence is very unlikely with children given their dependence on adult caregivers and limited ability to weigh medical decision making. While it is heart-breaking when a child suffers, every child deserves the best possible protection from the law irrespective of their condition. Active termination of life does not fit in with this. Terminating the life of a child that is impressionable, cannot defend itself and is incapable to express its will is problematic on all scores. Soon decisions will be being made about their lives but not by them. They should stay optimally protected in this.

Incremental extension
BHK has good reason to argue the dangers of incremental extension. The Dutch experience so far with the regulation and legalisation of euthanasia has shown that there is an ever increasing number of categories that qualify once the step has been taken. The journey from initially legalising for physical pain and then incrementally including dementia, psychological pain, psychiatric conditions, existential pain and the so called piling of complaints related to aging, has shown how rapidly this develops. We now even have the proposal for a law that would allow those 75 and older to opt for euthanasia even when physical and psychiatric suffering are not at issue.

A similar development took place with the Groningen protocol which allows for infanticide. While initially allowing for the termination of life age 0-1 on the basis of unbearable physical suffering, now potential future suffering can be included in this evaluation.

The BHK is concerned that the newly proposed regulation, will once again lead to new grey areas arising. The spokesperson for BHK, Henk Reitsema asks: 

“For who will termination of life be deemed appropriate in 2050?”


1 Brouwer M, van der Heide A, Hein I, Maeckelberghe E, Verhagen E, van de Wetering V. Medische beslissingen rond het levenseinde van kinderen (1-12). Groningen, Rotterdam, Amsterdam: UMCG, Erasmus MC, AMC in opdracht van het ministerie van VWS, afdeling Ethiek, namens de Nederlandse Vereniging voor Kindergeneeskunde; 2019.
2 Rapportage patient journeys kinderpalliatieve zorg. Jb Lorenz, Kenniscentrum kinderpalliatieve zorg, PAL kinderpalliatieve expertise: 2018


Melanie Klein said...

The Netherlands passing law terminating life of children is appalling!!! Thankyou for your keeping us apprised of existing occurances and upcoming developments in our world.

Alex Schadenberg said...

The Netherlands have not yet approved euthanasia for children. The group I am reporting on are opposing what is proposed but not legal.