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Netherlands. Euthanasia of children under the age of 12 will be allowed

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The Dutch government decided on Friday that euthanasia of children between the ages of one and 12 would be allowed in the country. The decision was made after consultations with paediatricians and the prosecutor’s office, said Health Minister Ernst Kuipers. Currently, euthanasia of children under the age of 12 is a crime.

Kuipers announced the proposed law change last year. He proposed allowing the shortening of lives of children younger than 12 who “suffer unbearably”. For euthanasia to take place, there must be “no real possibility of eliminating the child’s hopeless suffering.”

According to the current decision, the procedure to shorten the child’s life will have to be preceded by the consent of the parents, and the doctor will have to consult at least one other independent physician.

Netherlands. Euthanasia of children up to 12 years old will be allowedShutterstock

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An earlier proposal provided for the need to take into account “verbal and non-verbal signals from the child”, i.e. the situation that if the doctor receives a clear signal that the child does not want his life to end, parental consent will not be enough to carry out euthanasia. However, it is not clear whether this provision is included in the new regulation.

The change is expected to be implemented in the next few months. As the Minister of Health announced on Friday, he estimates that 5-10 children per year will be eligible for life-shortening procedures under the new law.

current euthanasia law

Currently, in the Netherlands, euthanasia is allowed under certain conditions (unbearable, unrecoverable suffering, consultation with another doctor, informed consent of the patient) from the age of 12. For children aged 12-16, consent must also be given by parents or guardians. People aged 16-18 can decide on their own about euthanasia, but doctors must consult their parents.

IN the Netherlands there is also the so-called Groningen Protocol on euthanasia of infants. This is not a right formally included in the law, but a set of procedures drawn up by scientists from the University Hospital in Groningen in cooperation with the local prosecutor’s office. In 2005, the protocol was approved as a national guideline by the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Kindergeneeskunde (Dutch Pediatric Welfare Association).

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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