Wesley J. Smith: Euthanizing Children

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(First Things) – The death of a terminally ill seventeen-year-old boy made headlines recently, as Belgium’s first case of child euthanasia. I don’t understand the sudden fuss. The Netherlands has long allowed minors to request and receive euthanasia: Dutch children down to age sixteen can receive euthanasia without their parents’ consent, and children can be killed by doctors with parental consent starting at age twelve.

Perhaps Belgium’s euthanasia law has received this recent media attention because it has no age limits, instead requiring that a minor demonstrate a capacity to make autonomous decisions before receiving assisted suicide. Think about this: Children who can’t enter into legal contracts, get tattooed, or be licensed to drive a car may request—and receive—death.

The healthcare system doesn’t dole out death only to teens and preteens. In the Netherlands, doctors commit infanticide against babies born with serious disabilities or terminal illnesses with impunity, even though the practice remains technically illegal. Indeed, doctors at the Groningen University Medical Center felt so safe committing infanticide that they published the Groningen Protocol, a bureaucratic checklist to help determine whether a baby is killable. CONTINUE