Dutch Doctors Kill Babies In Spite Of Euthanasia Ban
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 23, 2005
GRONINGEN, NETHERLANDS--Killing children is illegal, even in the Netherlands.
Still, at least 22 newborns have been killed -- euthanized -- because of their disabilities since 1997, a Dutch study revealed Saturday.
None of the doctors involved in the "mercy killings" have been charged with a crime, according to the report published in the Dutch Journal of Medicine. The babies reportedly had a form of spina bifida in which their spinal cords were open, some of their brain mass was missing, and their internal organs did not function.
Prosecutors had decided informally not to file charges as long as a child's medical team and independent doctors agreed the child had no hope of improvement; the child's pain could not be eased; the parents gave their consent; and the life was ended in the "correct medical way".
An earlier survey found that an estimated 15 to 20 newborns are killed in the Netherlands each year by doctors, but that most are not reported to authorities.
"The babies are there but we were never allowed to talk about them," said Groningen University Medical Centre pediatrician Eduard Verhagen, who is one of the authors of the study.
"It is time to be honest," Dr. Verhagen was quoted as saying in the Telegraph. "All over the world doctors end lives discreetly, out of compassion, without any regulation."
Euthanasia has been legal for adults in the Netherlands since 2001. It is not legal for children, however.
At the Vatican, Pope John Paul II cautioned Dutch authorities, doctors and educators to "weigh the gravity of these questions."
"For several years Dutch society, marked by the phenomenon of secularization, has set in motion a legislative policy concerning the beginning and the end of human life," the pontiff said Saturday.
"The Holy See has not failed to lay out its clear position and to invite Catholics in the Netherlands always to bear witness to the most absolute respect of the human person, from conception to natural death."