Netherlands Hospital Already Began Euthanasia of Newborns

A hospital in the first nation in the world to allow euthanasia - or doctor-assisted suicide - has announced it has already begun applying the policy to newborns.

A hospital in Netherlands, the first nation to permit euthanasia, revealed it has already begun killing terminally ill newborns by administering a lethal dose of sedatives after proposing guidelines on the procedure, reported the Associated Press, an announcement that has spurred an ethical outrage.

Groningen Academic Hospital said it follows guidelines that allow the killing of a newborn if the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it's best.

The hospital said it has reported all cases to government prosecutors. According to the Justice Ministry, the four cases where newborns were euthanized in 2003 were all from Groningen Academic Hospital with cases dating to 2000. There have been no legal proceedings against the hospital or the doctors.

The hospital’s announcements come just months after the main Ducth doctors association urged the Health Ministry to form an independent board to review euthanasia cases for terminally ill people with “no free will,” including children, the severely mentally retarded and people left in an irreversible coma after an accident.

The Netherlands legalized euthanasia three years ago. Ten thousands protesters demonstrated outside Dutch government buildings when the Upper House of Parliament debated the legalization of euthanasia at The Hague.

However, the euthanasia of newborns, called “mercy killings” by its proponents, have sparked moral outrage from Roman Catholic organizations, the Vatican, and U.S. pro-life and pro-family groups.

Concerned Women for America, the largest women’s public policy organization in the U.S., has condemned the Netherland’s euthanasia policy.

“It is especially distressing to watch this once great country and people, who stood up to Nazi crimes against humanity, permit conduct for which Nazi doctors were hanged as war criminals,” said Jan LaRue, chief counsel of Concerned Women for America, on Wednesday. “This is the land of Corrie Ten Boom and The Hiding Place where the Dutch Resistance protected innocent human life from Nazi barbarism.”

A CWA press release pointed to a 1997 study in the British medial journal, the Lancet, that revealed that doctors in the Netherlands were killing approximately 8 percent of all infants who die each year with one-fifth of these killings being done without the consent of the parents. It also point to another study showing that in 1990 an average of three people per day were actively killed by doctors without the patients’ knowledge or consent.

Euthanasia is also legal in Belgium and Oregon. French lawmakers passed this week a bill that will allow euthanasia in three ways: doctors will not face prosecution by ending medical treatment that is seen to be maintaining life artificially at the request of the patient, by giving higher-than-normal doses of medication that could hasten death to patients in extreme pain, and thirdly, a terminally-ill patient can refuse life-sustaining medical treatment.

“The Netherlands’ slide into the bottom of this immoral abyss should set off alarms in every state against enacting a so-called Death with Dignity Act, such as Oregon has done,” LaRue added.

“The Netherlands went from physician-assisted suicide to voluntary euthanasia to involuntary euthanasia of incapacitated adults and children in less than 30 years. And it was all done in the name of patient autonomy.

“Once the door is opened to what is appealingly but deceitfully labeled as the ‘good death,’ you realize too late that you’ve opened the door to Hell,” she concluded.

Two weeks ago, Pope John Paul II charged euthanasia as a distortion of medical ethics, saying doctors could not decide "who can live and who must die."

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