The government of the Netherlands has approved plans that would allow terminally ill children between the ages of one and 12 to be euthanized.
On Tuesday, Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said that this reform would prevent children from suffering “unbearable and hopeless suffering.”
Currently, euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands for children over 12 years old under mandatory consent of the patient and their parents.
It is also allowed in babies under one year of age with parental consent.
But there is no legislation for terminally ill patients between one and 12 years old.
This situation has caused controversies and months of debate within the government coalition formed by four political parties. It has also been criticized by conservative Christian parties.
What will reform consist of?
Now, after the approval of the Government, de Jonge will create a draft with new regulations for this practice. The minister said that a study carried out by experts had pointed out the need for the rule change.
“The study shows the need for doctors and parents of a active termination of life of children with incurable diseases, with unbearable and hopeless suffering and death for the foreseeable future, “de Jonge explained in a letter to Parliament.
The minister added that the study estimates that the rule change will affect between 5 and 10 children per year.
The reform would mean that doctors do not face legal charges for practicing previously approved euthanasia of a child in this age range.
As with those 12 and older, Parental consent will be required to perform euthanasia and at least two doctors must agree in performing the procedure.
The change is expected to be implemented in the coming months.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002. Belgium, its territorial neighbor, also allowed it months later.
Is about the first two countries in the world that legalized this practice, albeit under very strict conditions.
In 2014, Belgium became the first country to allow voluntary euthanasia of children if they suffer from a serious illness, are in pain and have the consent of their parents.
Soon after, the Netherlands introduced the same measure for children over 12 years of age.
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