Belgian Doctors Admit To Killing Newborns With Disabilities And
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 13, 2005
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM--While euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002, it is not legal for children, regardless of their level of disability or illness.
Despite this fact, Belgian babies and infants are routinely killed by the doctors who are supposed to care for them.
A study published last week by the medical journal Lancet revealed that 143 of the 298 newborns or infants who died before their first birthday between August 1999 and July 2000 did so at the hands of their doctors.
Researchers sent anonymous questionnaires to the 175 doctors involved in those cases. The 121 doctors who responded said they either withdrew treatment, gave lethal doses of pain killers, or used drugs specifically to end babies' lives.
The surveys revealed that nearly 60 percent of the doctors support a law allowing them to engage in "mercy killing" of infants, and that 79 percent thought it was their professional responsibility in some circumstances to bring about the death of a child.
"We found that about three in four physicians who are confronted with critically ill neonates and infants are willing to participate in certain forms of life termination in these children," said Professor Luc Deliens, an author of the study from Free University of Brussels. "The main reasons for shortening of the neonate's life were the absence of real survival chances, and, if the baby survived, an expected very poor quality of life,"
The Lancet also revealed that 83 percent of Belgian pharmacists want a law regulating euthanasia of children because the drugs used for legitimate medical treatment are often used to kill the infants, just in larger doses.
In February, the Dutch Journal of Medicine reported that at least 22 newborns in the Netherlands have been killed because of their disabilities since 1997.
An earlier Dutch survey found that an estimated 15 to 20 newborns are euthanized in that country each year by doctors, but that most are not reported to authorities.
Many disability rights groups oppose efforts to make "mercy killing" legal. They argue that doctors should not be allowed to kill based on their predictions or judgments of what the person's quality of life might become, and that doing so puts children and adults with disabilities in a more vulnerable position.
"Belgian babies helped to die" (The Age)
"Dutch Doctors Kill Babies In Spite Of Euthanasia Ban" -- February 23, 2005 (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)