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The approval of euthanasia for terminally ill children under the age of 12 by the Dutch government has caused a stir among people not only from the country, but beyond. Before the rules were passed, there had been a debate that lasted for a couple of months, with some saying a child that young cannot be given a chance to choose to terminate their own life because they don’t even understand what they are doing. Others believed that children who are “suffering hopelessly and unbearably,” along with their parents’ consent could be approved for euthanasia.

Euthanasia for babies younger than a year old is already taking place in the Netherlands, and is now extended for terminally ill children younger than 12.

The conservative Christian parties were against the approval, but doctors and pediatricians were reported to be pushing the changes. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said in a letter to the parliament, “The study shows that there is a need for active termination of life among doctors and parents of incurably ill children, who are suffering hopelessly and unbearably and will die within the foreseeable future.” thus revealed the government’s new plans to make provisions that cover children below the ages of 12.

In addition to the parents’ consent, at least two doctors must agree with the euthanasia upon perceiving the child’s health condition and determining the patient is experiencing “unbearable and endless suffering.”

Based on studies and research, the number of children affected with the new rules will be between 5 and 10 a year. These would be children who suffer from cancer or metabolic diseases which can’t be eased through palliative care.

Referring to those studies, the Health Minister added, according to NL Times, that euthanasia will be provided to “a small group of terminally ill children who agonize with no hope, and unbearable suffering,” and “are without any prospect of improvement.”

When The Netherlands became the first ever country to implement law of euthanasia back in 2001, the then Health Minister said, “[Assisted suicide] is and remains a last resort that cannot be seen as an alternative for poor health care. Doctors have the right to refuse and patients have the right to choose euthanasia.”

According to The Guardian, the number of deaths by euthanasia in 2019 made up a little over 4 percent of the total number of deaths in the country.

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