The Dutch government explicitly condones the medical termination of the lives of newborns and children. The policy, called The Groningen Protocol, establishes criteria and directives under which doctors can actively end the life of a child under the age of 12 without danger of prosecution.
The practice is terrifying but also incredibly relevant to the entire euthanasia debate as it sits centrally upon the tenuous line between euthanasia and what most consider murder.
Most proponents of euthanasia defend only voluntary euthanasia, spouting “dignity to die” and “right to choose” arguments to defend their position. As long as the procedure is the will of the patient, they argue, euthanasia is not murder but compassion.
The Groningen Protocol, however, sets up legal and medical validation for what is technically termed “involuntary euthanasia,” as infants and children clearly do not have the cognitive ability to voluntary surrender their lives. Therefore, when the “active ending of life” is not the will of the patient, how it is any different than murder?
Involuntary euthanasia is separate from murder only to the degree that it is justified by the intent to alleviate suffering. The Groningen Protocol, for example, stipulates that euthanasia of infants can only be conducted in the presence of “hopeless and unbearable suffering.” As LifeSiteNews.com reports, this suffering can fall within three conditions:
“those who are so ill that they are likely to die very soon; those who could survive after ‘intensive treatment,’ but ‘expectations regarding their future condition are very grim,’ and; those who can survive without any additional medical treatment whatsoever, but are deemed to be experiencing suffering and ‘for whom a very poor quality of life, associated with sustained suffering, is predicted.’”
This is the “quality of life” argument taken to the extreme.
Voluntary euthanasia is validated on the grounds of a patient’s determination of their own quality of life. However, once quality of life is a valid criterion for ending any life, the power to determine that quality is up for grabs. There is, then, no ground upon which to prevent such logic from extending into the dangerous and murky waters of involuntary euthanasia. Once the door to involuntary euthanasia is opened, we have conceded to medical professionals and government officials the right to determine and dictate the value of all human lives.
Although the argument sounds extreme, this is only one small logical step away from the validation of eugenics and state-sanctioned murder. For example, a Dutch researcher released a proposal last week encouraging the Dutch government to alter the Groningen Protocol to include “foreseen” suffering in the criteria for infant euthanasia. The researcher, Hilde Buiting, was quoted saying:
“The current guidelines state that there must be actual grave suffering on the part of the newborn,. . . In practice, physicians look not only to the actual suffering of the sick newborn, but also to the grave suffering foreseen in the future. This reality should be included in the considerations in adapting the guidelines. . . . Given that we in the Netherlands find it important to exercise social control over the active killing of newborns, the guidelines should therefore be adjusted.”
“Foreseen” suffering under these conditions could include any number of physical or mental conditions and thus is the first step in permitting the state-sanctioned elimination of all disabled children. There is no distinction between this and the practice of eugenics.
Therefore, the Dutch policy on infant euthanasia, and the suggestions of Hilde Buiting in particular, are a symbolic warning to all who strive to protect life. Once we allow the quality of life to dictate the value of any life, it is not a haphazard “slippery slope” into eugenics and state-sanctioned murder, but a simple, logical progression.
Once you concede the quality of life argument, you must then ask who determines that quality—in most cases it will not be the individual whose life is in question.