The Netherlands is considering allowing children under the age of 12 to be euthanized if they are terminally ill and have no hope of recovery.
Health Minister Ogrom de Jonge proposed the new policy to the Dutch general staff, the country’s legislature, on Tuesday, saying the end of life should be available to “a small group of terminally ill children”, the NL Times reported.
Suicide-assisted suicide is currently legal in the country for babies under the age of one and children over the age of 12, but De Jong is concerned about young people between these age groups and their access to care, the outlet said.
For terminally ill children who “agonize without hope and unbearable suffering,”
This has created what doctors call a “gray area” between traditional palliative care and active assisted suicide, which makes them want more regulation, De Jong said, according to the outcome.
De Jong said the proposed policy would only affect between five and ten children each year, who suffer “as a result, in some cases unnecessarily, for a long time, with no prospect of improvement.” He said that “the best possible care” for this group of children is of paramount importance, the outlet said.
Lawmakers against the policy said it was wrong to push for the change less than six months before the country’s next election, while De Jong opposed that it was a measure needed to protect children and would allow greater transparency of the aforementioned ” gray area ‘.
He said this would make doctors more accountable to parents and provide a basis for reviewing and evaluating individual cases, as is already being done for currently resolved euthanasia situations.