Proponents of Childhood Euthanasia Argue it Should be Left up to 'Beneficence' of Doctors

Proponents of Childhood Euthanasia Argue it Should be Left up to 'Beneficence' of Doctors

Should it be legal to euthanize sick children? This is what some medical professionals are arguing for in the January 10, 2018 edition of the journal Pediatrics. reports on the shocking trend among doctors. The Pediatrics article contains viewpoints of both proponents and opponents of childhood euthanasia, but the proponents' views appear especially concerning.

In the Netherlands, it is already legal for children ages 12 to 18 to be euthanized, given parental consent. Three of the doctors contributing to the Pediatrics article argue that the Netherlands should take away all age restrictions regarding euthanasia.

Marije Brouwer, MA, Els Maeckelberghe, Ph.D., and Eduard Verhagen, M.D., JD, Ph.D., argue that broadly legalizing euthanasia alleviates the suffering of children:

“We would advise the Minister of Health to consider removing age restrictions from both the Euthanasia Regulation and the Groningen Protocol. This would make euthanasia accessible for competent and incompetent children who suffer unbearably when there is no other way to relieve their suffering. It would show trust in mature minors, parents, and doctors to make the right decisions,” they write.

The doctors continue, arguing that the decision to euthanize should be left to the “beneficence” of physicians.

This, however, easily slips into shaky ethical territory.

As Professor of Philosophy Christopher Kaczor, another medical professional who contributed to the article, argues, “Defenders of the Dutch law permitting intentional killing of infants as well as adults and children 12 years of age and older presuppose an empirical claim: killing a person is ‘the only escape from the situation’ of unbearable suffering. This claim is false.”


Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Cristin Lola

Publication date: January 18, 2018