Netherlands widens euthanasia laws to include children under 12

Science and Health

The Netherlands will now allow euthanasia of terminally ill children between the ages of one and 12, according to a report by the Guardian earlier this week.

The Dutch government said that this would only apply to up to 10 children a year and only for children who have no hope of recovery and who aren’t helped by palliative care.

“The end of life for this group is the only reasonable alternative to the child’s unbearable and hopeless suffering,” said the government in a statement.

Euthanasia for adults and newborn babies with terminal illnesses was already allowed in the Netherlands, but this new rule makes the country the second in the world after Belgium to allow euthanasia of kids up to the age of 12.

Minors over the age of 12 could request euthanasia with a guardian’s consent being required until 16.

People protest against euthanasia. (credit: FLICKR)

The Netherlands was, however, the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia in 2002.

The request to widen the law was rejected in December of last year but was ultimately passed last week.

In order for doctors to be allowed to grant patients euthanasia, they must meet five conditions:

  • The patient must make the request voluntarily and after properly considering the option.
  • The patient must be suffering to a degree that is considered unbearable and have no hope for recovery or improvement.
  • The patient must be fully informed of their options and the specifics of the condition they are suffering from.
  • The patient and the doctor must conclude together that there is no other alternative to euthanasia.
  • The patient must consult with at least one other doctor that has not treated them thus far, and the doctor must supply written confirmation that the consultation happened. If the patient is considered mentally ill, they must consult with at least two doctors including at least one psychiatrist.