Babies Euthanized

SenseiBear

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By TOBY STERLING, AP
Updated: 12:57 AM EST
Terminally Ill Babies Euthanized
Experts Say Mercy Killings Elsewhere Go Unreported Out of Fear


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (Nov. 30) - A hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.

The announcement by the Groningen Academic Hospital came amid a growing discussion in Holland on whether to legalize euthanasia on people incapable of deciding for themselves whether they want to end their lives - a prospect viewed with horror by euthanasia opponents and as a natural evolution by advocates.

In August, the main Dutch doctors' association KNMG urged the Health Ministry to create an independent board to review euthanasia cases for terminally ill people "with no free will,'' including children, the severely mentally retarded and people left in an irreversible coma after an accident.

The Health Ministry is preparing its response, which could come as soon as December, a spokesman said.

Three years ago, the Dutch parliament made it legal for doctors to inject a sedative and a lethal dose of muscle relaxant at the request of adult patients suffering great pain with no hope of relief.

The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital's guidelines have come to be known, would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively end the life of newborns deemed to be in similar pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities.

The guideline says euthanasia is acceptable when the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it's best.

Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain damage from bleeding and convulsions; and diseases where a child could only survive on life support for the rest of its life, such as severe cases of spina bifida and epidermosis bullosa, a rare blistering illness.

The has hospital revealed it carried out four such mercy killings in 2003, and reported all cases to government prosecutors. There have been no legal proceedings against the hospital or the doctors.

Roman Catholic organizations and the Vatican have reacted with outrage to the announcement, and U.S. euthanasia opponents contend the proposal shows the Dutch have lost their moral compass.
"The slippery slope in the Netherlands has descended already into a vertical cliff,'' said Wesley J. Smith, a prominent California-based critic, in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Child euthanasia remains illegal everywhere. Experts say doctors outside Holland do not report cases for fear of prosecution.

"As things are, people are doing this secretly and that's wrong,'' said Eduard Verhagen, head of Groningen's children's clinic. "In the Netherlands we want to expose everything, to let everything be subjected to vetting.''

According to the Justice Ministry, four cases of child euthanasia were reported to prosecutors in 2003. Two were reported in 2002, seven in 2001 and five in 2000. All the cases in 2003 were reported by Groningen, but some of the cases in other years were from other hospitals.

Groningen estimated the protocol would be applicable in about 10 cases per year in the Netherlands, a country of 16 million people.

Since the introduction of the Dutch law, Belgium has also legalized euthanasia, while in France, legislation to allow doctor-assisted suicide is currently under debate. In the United States, the state of Oregon is alone in allowing physician-assisted suicide, but this is under constant legal challenge.

However, experts acknowledge that doctors euthanize routinely in the United States and elsewhere, but that the practice is hidden.

"Measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours or days or weeks are stopped. This happens routinely, namely, every day,'' said Lance Stell, professor of medical ethics at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., and staff ethicist at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. "Everybody knows that it happens, but there's a lot of hypocrisy. Instead, people talk about things they're not going to do.''

More than half of all deaths occur under medical supervision, so it's really about management and method of death, Stell said.

Hmmm. Thoughts? Comments?
 
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SenseiBear

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and I guess I should comment first... While I heartily support things like Oregon's Death With Dignity act that allows patients to choose to end their lives... The idea of euthanasia with out a living will specifying such, makes me pretty uncomfortable.

You?
 

Lisa

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I don't know. As a parent, I don't know if I could make that decision. I would have a hard time letting go of that slim (albeit based completely on emotion and not on science) hope that my baby would make it through. On the otherside of that, watching your child painfully suffer for whatever short period of time they are on earth would equally tear me apart.

For those parents that finally make that decision, I hope beyond anything else, that they find peace.
 

TigerWoman

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Babies didn't use to live so long or were even born with severe birth defects, brain damage. Nature didn't permit it. But now we have life support even in the face of never really having any kind of life. As a parent too, I think that choice would be terrible. The example of this would be a grown up child - like the one in Florida, Terry Schiavo, which the parents are fighting to end. But who makes the judgement of life? I know for one, I saw my father die a long terrible death from cancer. Did he need to go through all that pain for the last six months? If he had a choice to end it, I think he would have chosen that rather than the horrible pain and hallucinations, not to mention he couldn't eat or sleep, or do anything comfortably. And to not let babies die is inhumane too, to put them through the pain of life, in the face of them not ever knowing the joy. But it would take a very wise medical board and in the view of healthcare and HMO's trying to save money having a effect on medicine, it couldn't be all medical or even mostly medical. Even then, I think everyone should have a living will and parents should decide about babies, children once the medical prognosis is given. TW
 

Ping898

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Thurthfully the thought of it makes me uncomfortable. I mean it is one thing for you to decide to do it. But I have heard so many stories about babies and kids defying the odds and living years longer than they were supposed to, or that the illnesses weren't as bad as intially thought, that I would be very wary about ending the life of a child so soon after birth. And though I know for every kid that defies the odds there is probably 100,000 that don't, I would hate to deny that 1 kid the chance.
But I am also not a parent and I know one of the worse things a parent can go through is watching their kid in pain and feeling helpless to do anything about it. If I were actually faced with the choice for my own child...not sure what I would do...
 

Feisty Mouse

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I think it's good that they as a nation are talking about the issue, which is so verboten, even though it happens.

It's obviously not pleasant. It is heartbreaking and painful to watch a loved one suffer helplessly, made worse by knowing that they will continue to suffer, kept alive by a set of machines.

It is clearly up to each set of parents how they want their child treated. I think allowing a severely damaged and suffering child to pass away sooner, and with less suffering, should be one of their options.

I have no idea what I would do in that situation - I don't think anyone does.
 
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Deuce

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Feisty Mouse said:
I have no idea what I would do in that situation - I don't think anyone does.
I agree with you on this. It's one thing to try and put yourself in the position, and to try and rationalize what you would do. But to actually be in the situation, I'm honestly not sure what I would do. I think you'd have to live it, see it, and feel it before you can make an accurate judgement.

I'm not sure if I support the practice of baby mercy killing, but I may want the option if put in this terrible situation. I just don't know. I can't imagine what these parents go through.
 
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rmcrobertson

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1. The Dutch have been doing this for a number of years now. Why's it an issue now?

2. I strongly recommend that everybody horrified spend a year working in a big NICU, as I have.

3. So the logic is--Dutch euthanize, bad. We bomb children in ourr little wars, shoot down airliners with kids on board, cut children's programs, refuse to get seriously involved in family planning for ideological reasons, chop programs to provide clean water for children, cut spending on children's advocacy programs, attack Head Start on the grounds that mommies should be at home rather than working and child care is Against God's Will, ignore the 10-20 thousand (minimum) child sex slaves in this country, refuse to guarantee every kid their vaccinations and basic health care in this country, and generally insist that Capitalism Will Make Everything Right Which Is Why Child Labor In Our Foreign factories Is A Good Thing, and hey, no problem whatsoever.

4. Americans get fascinated with old news pieces like this so that they don't have to confront what they're doing. Oh yes--I forgot; we throw away enough on PET FOOD and COSMETICS yearly to ensure that every kid on the planet gets enough to eat.

5. One has to say this for the Catholic Church these days: they are morally consistent at last. The official dogma is that ALL this stuff is wrong.
 

Feisty Mouse

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3. So the logic is--Dutch euthanize, bad. We bomb children in ourr little wars, shoot down airliners with kids on board, cut children's programs, refuse to get seriously involved in family planning for ideological reasons, chop programs to provide clean water for children, cut spending on children's advocacy programs, attack Head Start on the grounds that mommies should be at home rather than working and child care is Against God's Will, ignore the 10-20 thousand (minimum) child sex slaves in this country, refuse to guarantee every kid their vaccinations and basic health care in this country, and generally insist that Capitalism Will Make Everything Right Which Is Why Child Labor In Our Foreign factories Is A Good Thing, and hey, no problem whatsoever.
Maybe it's because people don't want to see the problems we have here at home, we focus on issues like this, far away and sterilized?
 

Ping898

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Feisty Mouse said:
Maybe it's because people don't want to see the problems we have here at home, we focus on issues like this, far away and sterilized?
If it doesn't affect (I think I got that right) you personally, most people I have found won't make the connection between cutting programs and killing kids as long as they are not your own.
And yes, it is easier to solve someone else's problem or get involved with their "issues" than to look at home and fix or deal with anything there.
 

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We should spend billions and billions of bucks annually to keep the terminally ill in pain or drug induced zombie mode. To do otherwise is a sin and crime against the true meaning of life.

We must also be certain to put our blind, organ failing doggie to sleep, because to prolong his life in such a state of pain and agony is a sin and a crime against the true meaning of life.

On the surface, those seem to be mutually exclusive statements, but they aren't. We must honor our puppies and kitties by rewarding their trust with an honorable passing when their lives become little more than pain and suffering because it is right, but we must also honor grandma by keeping her on life support and morphine when her heart and lungs can no longer support her, and every waking moment is pure hell because to do otherwise is wrong. Why? I dunno, it just is.




(Please note the sarcasm in those statements. I fully support 'right to die' for animals, the elderly and terminally ill regardless of age.)
 

Feisty Mouse

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Another good point....


Why is it so much easier to talk about "quality of life" and "unbearable pain and suffering" for 'dumb' (speechless) animals, but not for loved ones of the human variety?
 
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SenseiBear

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rmcrobertson said:
1. The Dutch have been doing this for a number of years now. Why's it an issue now?

2. I strongly recommend that everybody horrified spend a year working in a big NICU, as I have.

3. So the logic is--Dutch euthanize, bad...
It's not an issue, I just found it interesting and wanted to share. I'm not horrified, nor do I think the Dutch are bad. I'm not even necessarily against euthanasia - I just said it makes me uncomfortable. I fully support the right to die, and with a living will, no problem, but before I would fully throw my support behind such a thing (were it to happen here, the Dutch can do as they please), I would want to look pretty closely at who made those decisions, what guidelines were used, and how easy it would be for them to change.

And those are concerns about euthanasia in general, not these particular cases.
 

Ping898

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Feisty Mouse said:
Another good point....


Why is it so much easier to talk about "quality of life" and "unbearable pain and suffering" for 'dumb' (speechless) animals, but not for loved ones of the human variety?
Well for me at least it is cause the animals can't put into words how much pain it might be in. In addition I am not related the the animal, it is not something that you know I birthed or anything.

I respect other's rights to die and would not deny it to them, but for me I believe God created me with a purpose and he has a plan for me, and it may not be until I take that last breathe that I fulfill what he has intended for me. So no matter what the pain or agony I don't want to end my life. The only exception to this is I don't want to be kept alive if the only thing keeping me alive is a machine. Shut the machine off, but don't inject an OD of medicine into my IV.
 

TigerWoman

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Feisty Mouse said:
Another good point....


Why is it so much easier to talk about "quality of life" and "unbearable pain and suffering" for 'dumb' (speechless) animals, but not for loved ones of the human variety?

Whats the good about talking about how much someone is suffering when nothing can be done about it. Kevorkian finally got stopped. Compassionate nurses get prosecuted. So do even elderly spouses who do it in love for the life long mates. But we CAN do it for our animals to end their suffering...
There is no outrage until you are affected and its your loved one or its you and its too late to communicate. I for one, would like a board of people, that can elect if you ask, or whoever has your power of attorney. At least, make it an option. TW
 

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Until and unless you are put in the situation, you cannot judge others. Working in a hospital would certainly put a few things into perspective for those who sit on their morally judgemental high horses, but would it be a life-changing experience? Nope - not until it affected them personally.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing your child suffer and you can't do anything to 'make it go away'.
 
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