The governmental parties have agreed to allow new regulation that will make children between the ages of 1-12 eligible for “active termination of life.” The children must be suffering terribly and without hope of recovery.
The agreement follows pleas by doctors who were unable to assist in situations where children were suffering immensely. An investigation into the matter was launched a few years ago and found that the majority of paediatricians were in favour of the possibility.
However, they also requested that there be more clarity surrounding the alleviation of suffering in the latter stages. The study found that there were approximately 5 to 10 children each year in the Netherlands who would be eligible for “active termination of life.”
A sensitive topic
The study was completed last year, however the coalition were reluctant to address the issue given the sensitivity of the subject. Rutte and Minister of Health, Hugo De Jonge, reintroduced the issue and while parties were initially divided on the topic, an agreement has finally been reached.
Under the new regulation, De Jonge has proposed that the Groningen Protocol should be expanded to include children between the ages of 1-12. He will consult with doctors about this.
What is the Groningen Protocol?
Currently, the Groningen Protocol only applies to newborns and babies under the age of one.
The protocol states that following consent from multiple people including the parents, social workers and the medical professionals in charge of the infant, an infant who is suffering unbearably may have their life ended by a medical professional.
The suffering must be so much that even under sedative and palliative drugs, the infant suffers immensely and will never experience independence or a good quality of life.
Children between the ages of 1-12 do not fall under the Groningen Protocol. This means that their parents can only wait for the child to die and place them under heavy sedation so that they won’t experience suffering towards the end of life.
How would the Groningen Protocol change?
De Jonge has proposed that those eligible for the Groningen Protocol should be expanded to include children between the ages of 1 and 12. This means that euthanasia law does not have to be changed, as euthanasia is only available to those above the age of 12 who are considered old enough to request it (although it must be approved by multiple entities.)
Following an agreement by the coalition, the proposal is expected to receive a majority of votes in favour in the House of Representatives.
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