Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Dutch Euthanasia (Part I Of A Potentially Recurring Series)

The prima facie case against Deborah Bedolla's claims of coercive euthanasia in Holland begins. Here is a summary of the relevant law. Look over the criteria for legality in euthanizing procedures:
The due care criteria which must be met in order to obtain exemption from criminal liability require that the attending physician:

* be satisfied that the patient has made a voluntary and well considered request
* be satisfied that the patient's suffering is unbearable, and that there is no prospect of improvement
* has informed the patient about his or her situation and prospects
* has come to the conclusion, together with the patient, that there is no reasonable alternative in the light of the patient's situation
* has consulted at least one other physician, who must have seen the patient and given a written opinion on the due care criteria referred to above, and
* has terminated the patient's life or provided assistance with suicide with due medical care and attention.
And furthermore:
The legislation covers requests for the termination of life or assistance with suicide by minors. A physician may comply with a request by minors between the ages of 12 and 16 where they are deemed to be capable of making a reasonable appraisal of their own interests and the parent/s or guardians is/are unable to agree to the termination of life or assisted suicide.

With respect to minors aged between 16 and 18, the legislation provides that a physician may comply with a request where they are deemed to be capable of making a reasonable appraisal of their own interests and the physician consults with the parent/s or guardian of the minor.
So. Euthanizing persons under 12 years of age is prohibited. And the law requires, in general, the consent of the patient and multiple medical opinions to the effect that the patient's case is hopeless and his pain is "unbearable." Sanctioning euthanasia under such circumstances is the act of a minimally compassionate society.

There might still be an empirical question about whether or not certain forms of involuntary euthanasia occur in violation of the law (and something tells me that's going to turn out hollow, too), but if so, so what? At worst, Holland's problem is one of law enforcement; the Dutch have clearly not given legal sanction to medical killing of children. (Hat tip to reader MS for the source material.)


At 10:25 AM, Blogger jeremy said...

I think the little scholar who wrote the YDN column ought to be censured.


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