The Dutch government has given the green light for the administration of euthanasia for terminally ill children aged between one and 12 years. The decision comes after months of intense debate and includes various limitations, such as that of being authorized by two doctors and not by one, and will be administered only in case of serious, incurable, fatal and extremely painful diseases. The country’s health minister, Hugo de Jonge, said a change in regulations is needed to help “a small group of terminally ill children suffering hopelessly and unbearable suffering.” The government estimates that the new rules, by removing the threat of prosecution by doctors, will affect between five and 10 children a year who have no hope of improving their condition.
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Holland is not the first country to make this practice legal. Belgium did so in 2014 when it legislated to allow euthanasia in cases where the young patient was terminally ill and in severe pain. Two Belgian children aged nine and 11 were the first to be euthanized in 2016 and 2017.