The Netherlands Is Set To Allow Euthanasia For Terminally Ill Kids Under 12
The Netherlands is looking at giving parents the right to euthanise their child, even if they are under the age of 12.
The legislation would only cover children who are terminally ill and lawmakers admit the rule will apply to a 'small group' of cases.
Euthanasia is currently legal in the country, however it's only available to people over the age of 12. Parents are also able to give consent to euthanise babies up to one year old.
That's why there's a discussion on the children aged between one and 12, to see whether they should be given the same rights.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge says there's a grey area in hospital care at the moment between doctors giving palliative sedation to help ease some pain, and actively terminating their lives.
He added that a study has revealed experts believe children in this age bracket should be allowed to terminate their lives.
"The study shows that there is a need for active termination of life among doctors and parents of incurably ill children, who are suffering hopelessly and unbearably and will die within the foreseeable future," Mr de Jonge said in a letter to parliament.
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Dutch News reports the Minister told Parliament this week that it's likely they will push forward with the proposal.
There would only be around five to 10 children who would need the treatment every year and these patients suffer 'unnecessarily, for a long time, without any prospect of improvement'. The current legislation wouldn't need to be updated, however the change would ensure doctors who perform the procedure won't be prosecuted.
But the Dutch government is expected to come up against some fierce opposition from religious politicians.
The ChristenUnie party told local media: "There is a whole spectrum - we are against euthanasia for children who are not considered mentally competent, but we have nothing against palliative sedation.
"Between them, there are a lot of different possibilities and the question is what the formal proposal will be.
"Actively ending a life is a very difficult and nuanced question and what are the boundaries?"
There were 6,361 cases of euthanasia in the Netherlands last year and 91 per cent were for people with terminal medical conditions.
If the country follows through with the plan to give children the right to die on their terms, it will join Belgium, who became the first country in the world in 2014 to permit euthanasia for children under 12.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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