AMSTERDAM (ChurchMilitant.com) - According to a survey, pediatricians in the Netherlands overwhelmingly favor euthanasia for young children.
A coalition of hospitals published the study in late September. Specifically, it indicates that many doctors support euthanasia for children 1-12 years of age.
Currently in the Netherlands, newborn infants under one year of age can be subject to involuntary euthanasia. Children ages 13-16, meanwhile, can agree to be euthanized if they have parental consent.
Euthanasia is still forbidden in the Netherlands for children ages 1-12 although this survey shows a surprising number of doctors who work with children for a living would like to see that changed.
Some have noted that the recent study had a small sample size, with only 38 anonymous pediatricians participating. Thirty-two of those sampled were in favor of euthanasia for children under the age of 12.
One of the researchers involved in the study, professor and pediatrician Eduard Verhagen, stated, "Especially with seriously ill children, whose dying phase can be accompanied by a lot of pain and suffering and whose death process can take weeks, a large number of parents and doctors have the desire to speed up or shorten that process."
Verhagen estimated that legalizing euthanasia of children ages 1-12 will lead to about five or ten children being euthanized per year.
Collectively, the 38 doctors surveyed have treated a total of 359 seriously ill young patients in the past five years.
The Dutch Association for a Voluntary End of Life (NVVE) has spoken out in support of euthanasia for children, stating, "Suffering is not age-related. Children experience suffering as much as adults. The NVVE states that children are entitled to a dignified death. There must be no obstacles for courageous doctors who support the child and parents in this."
Some euthanasia activists in the Netherlands have spent years pushing to make it legal to euthanize young children.
In late April of 2016, Dutch health minister Edith Schippers procured nearly 400,000 euros in taxpayer funding for research into the idea of expanding child euthanasia.
Even a pioneer of the pro-euthanasia movement in the Netherlands has voiced concern about how far things have gone. In June 2017, euthanasia pioneer and psychiatrist Boudewijn Chabot lamented the "worrisome rate" at which patients with dementia and psychiatric conditions were being terminated.
Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands spoke about Chabot's concerns in August 2017.
"Chabot is now complaining about a development he himself initiated," Cdl. Eijk said in a statement to Catholic News Service.
"Of course, it's good to read that an initiator and early advocate of euthanasia and assisted suicide is now concerned," the cardinal commented. "But the Dutch bishops' conference has warned from the beginning against violating the intrinsic dignity of human life through euthanasia or assisted suicide, because it is never ever allowable to violate intrinsic values, and because in doing so you put yourself on a slippery slope."
In July 2017, Dutch political leader Kees van der Staaij slammed the creeping expansion of euthanasia in the Netherlands, saying in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, "The pressing question is where the slope ends and the abyss begins."
He added, "Will those with intellectual disabilities or physical defects also be 'empowered' to step out of life? Will those battling thoughts of suicide be encouraged to opt for a 'dignified death' in place of excellent psychiatric care?"
Staaij voiced concerns about patient consent. He relayed a story where a woman with dementia simply said, "Upsy-daisy, let's go," and both her husband and the end-of-life doctor interpreted that to mean she was ready to die.
Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002. The Dutch government passed a law legalizing euthanasia in 2001, and the law took effect the following year.