More than half of the newborn babies who died in the Dutch- speaking region of Belgium were helped on their way by doctors, according to The Lancet. Researchers studied the death of nearly every baby under twelve months in Flanders between August 1999 and July 2000. Paediatricians told them that they had taken “end of life” decisions in more than half the cases. In most instances, this meant withholding or withdrawing treatment because they believed that the baby had no chance of survival or no chance of a “bearable future”. But in 40 cases out of 253, opiate pain killers were used in doses with potentially life-shortening effects. In 17 cases, lethal doses were administered.
Four-fifths of the doctors who completed a survey agreed that “the task of the physician sometimes involves the prevention of unnecessary suffering by hastening death”. As the London Telegraph commented, “the report went further than any other study in exposing the degree to which infant euthanasia has become commonplace in the most liberal regions of northern Europe.” In both the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia is legal — but not for infants.
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