Netherlands

Dutch government takes step towards legalising euthanasia for children under 12

The Dutch Health Minister, Ernst Kuipers, has put together a concrete plan to make euthanasia legal in the Netherlands for children under the age of 12 who “suffer hopelessly and unbearably” from illness.

Ernst Kuipers works to make euthanasia legal for terminally ill children

Following an appeal from paediatricians in the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s previous cabinet had already agreed that euthanasia should also be a viable option for terminally ill children between the ages of one and 12. According to Dutch law, children in this age group don’t fall under the Euthanasia Act or the legislation for the termination of the life of infants under the age of one. 

On Wednesday, Kuipers took an important step towards making the cabinet’s plan a reality, sending a draft plan to the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer). The Health Minister hopes to be able to present his final plan to the government in the autumn

Dutch government’s plan outlines a number of key requirements

Kuipers’ plan outlines a number of conditions that must be met by the patient’s families and doctors. The legislation is designed for children who are expected “to die in the foreseeable future,” and in cases where there is “no reasonable possibility” to remove the “hopeless suffering” of the child.

The physician is also required to consult at least one other doctor, and must have the consent of both parents and should explain the situation to the patient in a language that is comprehensible to a child. “In a legal sense, the child does not have to agree to the termination of life…[but] if the doctor receives the signal that the child does not want their life to be ended,” then parental consent is not enough to go ahead with the procedure.

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