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Euthanasia: May 25, 2006

Dutch Euthanasia Leads to Permitted Infanticide

Testifying before today's Senate Judiciary Subcommittee titled "The Consequences of Legalized Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia", Wesley J. Smith had this to say about infanticide:

In the Netherlands, infants are killed because they have birth defects, and doctors justify the practice. A 1997 study published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, revealed how deeply pediatric euthanasia had metastasized into Dutch neonatal medical practice. According to the report, doctors killed approximately 8 percent of all infants who died in the Netherlands in 1995. Assuming this to be typical, this amounts to approximately 80-90 infanticides per year. Of these, one-third would have lived more than a month. At least 10-15 of these killings involve infants who did not depend on life-sustaining treatment to stay alive. The study found that 45 percent of neonatologists and 31 percent of pediatricians, who responded to study’s questionnaires, had killed infants. A follow up study of end-of-life decisions made for infants published in the April 9, 2005, found that nothing had changed. In 2001, “in 8%” of cases, drugs were administered to infants “with the explicit intention to hasten death.”
In 2004, Groningen University Medical Center made international headlines when it admitted to permitting pediatric euthanasia and published the “Groningen Protocol,” infanticide guidelines the hospital utilized when killing 15-20 disabled newborns each year.” The Protocol creates three categories of killable infants: infants “with no chance of survival,” infants with a “poor prognosis and are dependent on intensive care,” and “infants with a hopeless prognosis,” including those “not depending on intensive medical treatment but for whom a very poor quality of life…is predicted.” Par for the course, authorities refused to prosecute even though pediatric infanticide is clearly murder under Dutch law.

Apologists for the infanticide applauded Dutch doctors for going public with the Protocol. “As things are,” Eduard Verhagan, head of Groningen’s children’s clinic told the Associated Press, “people are doing this secretly and that is wrong. In the Netherlands we want to expose everything to let everything be subject to vetting.”

Contrary to Dr. Verhagan’s assertion, it has long been known Dutch doctors kill disabled and dying babies—as The Lancet study of 1995 infanticides (published in 1997) cited above demonstrates. Indeed, a 1990 report of the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), Life-Terminating Actions with Incompetent Patients, set forth “requirements for careful medical practice” when ending the lives of handicapped newborns. The standard for permitting pediatric euthanasia was based on what Dutch doctors call an “unlivable life.” Rita Marker discussed Dutch infanticide in her seminal expose` of the international euthanasia movement, Deadly Compassion. I also wrote about Dutch infanticide practices in my 1997 edition of Forced Exit.

Infants are not the only children who are eligible for euthanasia. Pediatric oncologists have provided a hulp bij zelfoding (self-help for ending life) program for adolescents since the 1980s, in which poisonous doses are prescribed for minors with terminal illness. Moreover, children who want physician-assisted death may be able to receive it without consent of their parents. Dutch euthanasia advocates have also agitated to reduce the age of consent to euthanasia to 12-year-olds.

The testimony is alarming because it provides a glimpse into the future given the present trajectory of euthanasia and assisted suicide in America. While the practices Smith describes are obviously immoral, the trajectory of relative and ever changing standards of post-modern America make infanticide a future reality. At one time the intrinsic value of human life was universally recognized as proceeding from a transcendent source. With the rejection of biblical Christianity and the adoption of standards that connect one's worth to accidental characteristics, the doorway to assisted suicide, euthanasia, infanticide, and eugenics programs has been opened.

Thankfully, men and women, such as Smith, are standing up for the dignity of human life and in opposition to the oppression of the weak and helpless. My fear is that society will become calloused to the sounding of the trumpet and eventually embrace what was once considered abominable. The answer is a change in what society accepts as good and true to that which is rooted in the eternal Saviour of mankind.

Posted by tim at May 25, 2006 7:35 PM

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