August 20, 2022

Children to be eligible for euthanasia in Netherlands

A significant cohort is currently ineligible for euthanasia in the Netherlands – children aged 1 to 12. The Dutch Minister for Health plans to correct this with departmental regulations – rather than by amending the country’s euthanasia law.

Minister Ernst Kuipers has informed parliament that critically ill children who suffer unbearably and are terminally ill need relief from their suffering.

According to De Volkskrant, a Dutch newspaper, paediatricians have requested a regulation rather than a law: “They fear that a change in the law would polarize the debate, while they are looking for a practical solution for distressing situations for a very small target group.”

In the Netherlands, people over 12 may request euthanasia. Children under 1 can be euthanised under the long-standing Groningen Protocol. But some doctors have been lobbying to provide euthanasia for the 1-12 cohort as well. De Volkskrant says that Mr Kuipers’ draft proposal specifies seven criteria, including hopeless and unbearable suffering, the impossibility of alleviating the suffering, approval by doctors, and the consent of the parents.

In October the minister will inform Parliament about the details of his proposal and set a timetable for implementation.