Survey: Most Dutch Doctors Would Kill Children In Some
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 18, 2005
ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS--A majority of Dutch doctors surveyed recently said they would administer a lethal injection or potentially lethal dose of a drug to children in certain circumstances, if the law allowed it.
For a study released in the May edition of the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers interviewed pediatricians, general practitioners, and clinical specialists. When posed with the hypothetical situation of a child with incurable cancer, up to 60 percent said they would use lethal injections if the child requested it and the parents agreed. In situations where the parents requested euthanasia for an unconscious child, up to 42 percent of the doctors said they would end the child's life. Further, if the child wanted to die, and the parents did not agree, up to 28 percent of the doctors said they would honor the child's wishes.
The study may not be particularly surprising, in light of other recent studies on euthanasia performed on children in the Netherlands.
The report comes three months after a separate study, published in February's Dutch Journal of Medicine, found that at least 22 newborns in the Netherlands had been killed because of their disabilities since 1997. In a Dutch study published in March's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine doctors revealed that over the past seven years up to 20 newborns with disabilities had been killed each year in the Netherlands, but that most are not reported to authorities.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal for children under age 12 in the Netherlands. Some doctors are pushing for a law that would change that so that doctors who choose to kill children in certain situations would be protected.
Many disability rights groups oppose efforts to make such "mercy killing" legal. They argue that doctors should not be allowed to kill based on their predictions or judgments of what a person's quality of life might become, and that doing so puts children and adults with disabilities in a more vulnerable position.
"There's this sense of 'We just want it to be over,' which means that these kids can be shuffled off early," Stephen Drake, research analyst at the Chicago-based disability rights group Not Dead Yet, told Health Day News in response to the most recent study.
"The literature that looks at children who have disabilities, or those who are dying, finds that they are very sensitive and aware of what their families are going through," Drake said. "So, how much of a child's desire to die -- whether that child has a disability or an illness -- is based on overhearing the sighs outside the bedroom door of 'I can't take any more of this' from parents?"
"Many Dutch Doctors Support Euthanasia for Terminally Ill Kids" (Health Day News via ABC News)
"Abstract: Physicians' willingness to grant requests for assistance in dying for children: A study of hypothetical cases" (The Journal of Pediatrics)
"Dutch Doctors Kill Babies In Spite Of Euthanasia Ban" -- February 23, 2005 (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)