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Euthanasia for children.

On August 30, 2004, the Dutch judiciary authorized the University Hospital in the province of Groningen to carry out the "mercy killing" of children under the age of 2. This includes newborns when they are suffering from incurable diseases or undergoing unbearable suffering. This can easily lead to the practice of arbitrarily deciding which youngsters will live and which will die, observed Father Gonzalo Miranda, dean of the School of Bioethics of Rome's Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, in an interview with Zenit.

Dr. Eduard Verhagen, speaking for the Groningen Academic Hospital in the Netherlands, has asserted that euthanasia of infants is occurring worldwide, and that the country's eight teaching hospitals support the request for a panel to consider guidelines for euthanasia for people with "no free will" (

This measure, he said, demonstrates that the proverbial "slippery slope" theory is correct. Once a principle is established according to which a human being can be killed because he suffers, then logically it extends to all human beings who say they suffer--even if this is not true. Moreover, this new provision allows the killing of human beings who cannot speak for themselves--the murder of someone who cannot express what he is thinking. Ours is a culture in which death is seen as a solution for children who suffer. Who can say that another's life is not worth living and that the best thing for a person is to die? Another Roman spokesman, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, also saw a verification of the slippery slope argument (Osservatore Romano, Sept. 3, 2004). Once mercy-killing for the conscious adult who has asked for it becomes legal, then it will be extended to youths, with the consent of their parents, and, finally, to children and newborns--without their consent, he said. In the coming years, euthanasia will continue to expand until it includes adults incapable of giving consent, such as the mentally ill. The underlying reason rests on the assumption that there are no absolute values that have to be respected. Once monetary reasons such as an inheritance begin to play a role, the slippery slope becomes uncontrollable.

Dr. Claudia Navarini, professor of ethics at Regina Apostolorum, sees the recent Dutch decision as closing the distance with the former Nazi practices of euthanasia. Nazi euthanasia meant doing away with citizens considered of lesser value. The same is true in the case of euthanasia of newborns or children. There is no question of acceptance by the patient. The killing is no longer an act of mercy because of the person's intolerable pain, but an act of intolerance on the part of the person witnessing the one suffering. (Zenit, Sept. 13, 16, 2004).
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Title Annotation:Netherlands
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:4EUNE
Date:May 1, 2005
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