Holland, which already allows the practice of euthanasia, or assisted suicide, for adults who have expressed a desire to die if they are afflicted with a terminal illness and lose the ability to function, is now going to allow euthanasia for babies with terminal illnesses, in consultation with the parents and doctors.
Under the so-called Groningen protocol, a doctor would be able to end the life of a terminally ill baby in cases of “unbearable suffering” when the baby has no chance of surviving anyway.
“If a child is untreatably ill,” Verhagen explained, “there can be horrendous suffering that makes the last few days or weeks of this child’s life unbearable. Now the question is: are you going to leave the child like that or are you going to prevent that suffering?” He went on: “Does the child have to sit it out until the end? We think that the answer is no. There can be circumstances where, under very strict conditions, if all the requirements are fulfilled, active ending of life can be an option – but only in cases of untreatable disease and unbearable suffering.”
This is what happens to terminally ill babies with no hope of survival today.
Verhagen, a 42-year-old father of three who has spent years tending sick children in underdeveloped countries, became a paediatrician with the intention of saving children’s lives, not ending them. Then along came a case that changed his entire way of thinking.
Sanne had a severe form of Hallopeau-Siemens syndrome, which meant that her skin would detach itself from her body if anyone touched it. The membranes inside her mouth and oesophagus fell away whenever they tried to feed her through a tube.
To experts, it is obvious when babies are in pain, and not only because of the type of shrieking. The way they clench their fists is another indicator. This was a child in great pain but pain relievers seemed to make no difference; and every time nurses replaced her bandages a little more of her skin fell off. She came to resemble a mummy. Verhagen did not know what to do.
Her parents demanded an end to her suffering and, for the first time in his career, Verhagen considered euthanasia. Fearing prosecution, however, he sent the child home, where she died of pneumonia six months later.
When reports of the Groningen protocol first surfaced in late 2004, so-called “compassionate conservatives” were up in arms, comparing it to the Nazi final solution.
This is either a low point, or a point of no return. The establishment of “independent committees” to dispatch non-consenting humans is nothing but a death penalty committee for innocents. Once begun, it is impossible–simply impossible–to limit the concept with any bright line. Abortion, of course, has always been limited by the physical act of birth, and once out of the womb, only the most extreme “reproductive rights” advocates have argued that the baby’s natural right to live can be compromised by the mother. But now the Netherlands has gone farther–much, much farther. If the “severely retarded” may be killed upon appropriate motion, second, debate, and majority vote, why not the moderately retarded? Why not the mildly retarded? Why not, in fact, anyone the “independent committee” deems as usefully dispatched.
Why not? Let’s just kill any baby that doesn’t live up to our genetic standards! We’ll finally be able to create the Aryan master race our Führer dreamed of! Heil Hitler!
Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody’s even come anywhere close to suggesting creating a master race through baby euthanasia, except for the so-called “compassionate conservatives.”
As far advanced as our medical science has become, there are still many diseases and disorders which are not only quite lethal but for which we have no cure. We’re talking about babies who, in their short lives on this earth, will know nothing but the most severe suffering. Is it really the moral high ground to sit back and watch for months on end, listening to the constant, relentless screams of a baby in severe, unbearable pain, until the child finally dies? Or can the parents, after consulting with their doctors, getting a second opinion, and some oversight by an independent committee, make the decision that their baby should not have to continue suffering?
I leave to you the decision you would make for yourself and your family. As for me, if I am ever terminally ill with not only no hope of recovery but no hope of ever getting out of my hospital bed again, then that’s time to pull the plug.