Marlowe's Shade

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dutch Establish Child Euthanasia Commission

This is mind boggling considering the euthanasia of children is still technically illegal in Holland. But leave it to the Dutch to find new ways to make the rule of law meaningless.

From Reuters:

The Netherlands is setting up a commission to regulate the practice of ending the lives of "seriously suffering" newborn babies, the government said on Tuesday, in a move critics say could allow more euthanasia.

Euthanasia of newborns and late abortions remain illegal, but the commission -- composed of three doctors, a lawyer and a ethicist -- is likely to recommend that doctors who follow certain rules are not charged in concrete cases.

Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Junior Health Minister Clemence Ross-van Dorp said they hoped the commission, expected to start work in mid-2006, would improve the transparency of decision making.

"We wanted to respond to the needs of doctors to create clarity in how to deal with ending the life of seriously suffering newborns as well as the legal consequences of late abortions," the ministers wrote in a letter to parliament.

"The conventions, as well as the opinion of the commission, offer doctors the knowledge that cases will not just be seen from a legal perspective but also from a medical and ethical perspective ... the uncertainty of doctors is being addressed."

The attention to the concerns and needs of the doctors is quite touching. Can you feel the love?

But seeing as the focus, as usual in the Netherlands, is on removing any consequences for doctors, the emphasis on guidelines is misleading:

A study earlier this year showed that Dutch doctors had reported 22 cases between 1997 and 2004 of euthanasia of babies with spina bifida, a disabling birth defect affecting the spinal column, but had not been prosecuted after judicial review.

Prosecutors had decided against charging doctors as long as unofficial rules -- dubbed the Groningen protocol after the university hospital that compiled them -- were met.

The ministers want the commission to work on the basis of similar criteria, allowing euthanasia or late abortion if the baby had no chance of survival and was suffering unbearably, if the doctor consulted at least one other, the parents agreed and the life was ended in the correct medical way.

It has often been pointed out that guidelines are meaningless when not backed up by the appropriate punishments for violating them. Because of this the slippery slope in the Netherlands has already become a free fall. Innocent lives will hang in the balance, their fate not subject to justice, but the whims of the Commissiom of Death.
papijoe 9:41 AM