Holland considers allowing euthanasia for children aged from one to 12
- Health minister Hugo de Jonge raised the issue during a briefing
- The measure would aim only at terminally sick children who are suffering
- Minors can request euthanasia from the age of 12 but need parental consent
The Dutch government is considering allowing euthanasia for terminally-ill children aged one to 12 years old.
Children in the Netherlands can request euthanasia from the age of 12 and doctors are allowed to provide euthanasia to babies up to one year old in limited circumstances.
The country’s health minister Hugo de Jonge raised the issue of making it possible to help terminally-ill children and spoke about doctors having to give palliative sedation and terminating the children’s lives.
This is based on a report made by experts last year, who found that a group of children might be suffering because doctors are afraid of the consequences of actions.
The health minister said the measure would aim at terminally-ill children who are suffering
In the Dutch legislation euthanasia has been legal since 2002
The patient must some criteria such as his request for euthanasia to be ‘voluntary and well-considered’ and that his suffering is ‘unbearable with no prospect of improvement’
Minors can request euthanasia from the age of 12 but need parental consent
Doctors are allowed to provide euthanasia babies up to one year old in limited circumstances
The health minister added that he wants to ensure there would be legal guarantees for doctors and protection of the childrens’ rights.
The measure would aim only at terminally sick children, who are suffering and would die in the short term.
He said he is planning to work on the issue with professionals and legal experts.
According to the report made by at the medical teaching hospitals of Groningen, Rotterdam and Amsterdam the majority of doctors believed it was acceptable to end a child’s life, if they are suffering, at their parents’ request.
The report also showed that there is a number of cases of children suffering while they wait to die.
As a result the report suggested a new law to allow euthanasia to minors under 12 years of age.
In the Netherlands children from 12-15 can request euthanasia with a mandatory condent from parents or guardians while 16 and 17-year olds do not need a parent’s consent but they would need to inform their parents.
Euthanasia in Europe
Belgium was the first country to legalise euthanasia for minors, regardless of their age, in 2014
In Finland, Sweden and Norway active euthanasia remains illegal but passive euthanasia is allowed (the patient is left to die by withholding treatment)
In Luxembourg euthanasia is legal as long as the patient has the approval of two doctors and a panel of experts
Passive euthanasia is also legal in Germany
In Switzerland euthanasia is legal – but assisted suicide is considered a crime if those invloved have ‘selfish motives’
France forbids assisted dying but allows doctors to keep patients sedated until death
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