Children in the Netherlands aged 12 years or over can request euthanasia if they are terminally ill, suffering unbearably, are able to express their will and have parental approval. Urging the suppression of the current 12-year age limit, the Dutch Pediatricians Association has requested that terminally ill children in unbearable suffering should be given the right to die.
Eduard Verhagen, pediatrics professor at Groningen University who is on the association's ethics commission, said, "We feel that an arbitrary age limit such as 12 should be changed and that each child's ability to ask to die should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If a child under 12 satisfies the same conditions, pediatricians are currently powerless. It's time to address this problem."
AdvertisementDutch pediatricians have requested that a commission be set up to examine the question further. A change in the law would bring the Netherlands in line with Belgium, which in 2014 became the first country in the world to pass a law allowing euthanasia for a young child. The Belgian law offers the possibility of euthanasia to children who are in a hopeless medical situation of constant and unbearable suffering that cannot be eased and which will cause death in the short-term.
Belgian pediatricians said in 2013, "In cases of serious illness and imminent death, minors develop very quickly a great maturity, to the point where they are often better able to reflect and express themselves on life than healthy people."