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March 9, 2005
Dutch Babies Euthanized At Higher Rate Than Reported: CNN

Last November, the Netherlands medical community reported that doctors occasionally practiced euthanasia on children and babies and wanted the government to codify rules and practices for doctors to use. The proposal, called the Groningen Protocol, sought to allow doctors the final choice as to when to end a child's life, even if the parents objected (from the original AP story):

Under the Groningen protocol, if doctors at the hospital think a child is suffering unbearably from a terminal condition, they have the authority to end the child's life. The protocol is likely to be used primarily for newborns, but it covers any child up to age 12.

The hospital, beyond confirming the protocol in general terms, refused to discuss its details.

"It is for very sad cases," said a hospital spokesman, who declined to be identified. "After years of discussions, we made our own protocol to cover the small number of infants born with such severe disabilities that doctors can see they have extreme pain and no hope for life. Our estimate is that it will not be used but 10 to 15 times a year."

A parent's role is limited under the protocol. While experts and critics familiar with the policy said a parent's wishes to let a child live or die naturally most likely would be considered, they note that the decision must be professional, so rests with doctors.

At the time, the Netherlands claimed that less than ten children had been put to death as a result of the practice, but the effect of their statement was more outrage. The international outcry over killing babies, rather than attempting to save lives or even allowing them to die compassionately, surprised the Dutch medical community and forced the government to postpone codifying the acceptable terms for killing children.

Now it turns out that the Dutch government didn't tell the whole truth last year when the Groningen Protocol first came to light. The AP reports now that as many as five times the number of children killed that the Dutch initially acknowledged have been euthanized:

Euthanizing terminally ill newborns, while still very rare, is more common in the Netherlands than was believed when the startling practice was reported a few months ago -- and experts say it also occurs, quietly, in other countries.

Dutch doctors estimate that at least five newborn mercy killings occur for every one reported in that country, which has allowed euthanasia for competent adults since 1985. ...

Two pediatricians at the hospital, Drs. Pieter J.J. Sauer and Eduard Verhagen, report in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine that 22 mercy killings of newborns who otherwise would have lingered in intensive care for years were reported to authorities from 1997 to 2004, about three each year. But national surveys of Dutch doctors have found 15 to 20 such cases a year, out of about 200,000 births.

The problem, according to the AP, isn't limited to the Netherlands. In fact, the French may be the worst offenders, with a whopping 73% of all physicians surveyed have euthanized at least one infant with drug overdoses, the preferred method. That's 30 points higher than the Dutch, which still reports almost half of all physicians have killed newborns. Other countries in Europe report much smaller percentages, between 2-4%.

How can almost three-quarters of French physicians have run across that many instances of infants requiring death? Do they have a high percentage of birth defects in France? We worried about the Netherlands, but even the Dutch might be shocked at the French figures.

What this demonstrates is a shocking disregard for the sacred nature of human life and the devolution of a physician's status from health provider to human mechanic. The soulessness of such physicians that view their patients on this materialistic basis should frighten every French patient with a chronic, debilitating illness. Certainly expectant mothers who value their unborn children's lives might think twice about using French or Dutch obstetrician.

If this is the advanced civilization that Europe uses as an example of their prized secularization, they can have it. It seems to me that European ethics keep sliding back towards their lowest common denominator, that ghastly period of time when jackbooted thugs killed the infirm for being a drain on society. They started with the children and the chronically ill in Germany during the 1930s, too. That's not where they stopped.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 9, 2005 8:42 PM

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» Disturbing from The Other Corner
Captain Ed posts comments on and excerpts from a CNN article regarding the deplorable practice of killing babies and children in the Netherlands. It appears the Dutch government has been playing fast and loose with the numbers. The number of reported... [Read More]

Tracked on March 10, 2005 6:50 AM

» The Dutch Euthanize More Babies Than We Thought from MediaCulpa
And the problem may be even worse in France. [Read More]

Tracked on March 10, 2005 10:50 AM

» CQ Repeats Incorrect AP Story from PBS Watch
I am certainly no fan of the protocol, but it is unfortunate that Captain Ed repeats the incorrect AP story claiming the protocol allows doctors to euthanize infants without parental consent. [Read More]

Tracked on March 10, 2005 12:29 PM

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