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SnakebyteXX
12-01-2004, 07:21 AM
Nov 30, 4:24 PM (ET)

By TOBY STERLING

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - 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 hospital revealed last month 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.

Link (http://apnews.myway.com/article/20041130/D86MEAA80.html)
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catscradle
12-01-2004, 09:31 AM
I have always maintained that this is a natural consequence and extension of legalized abortion. Once the sanctity of life from conception is thrown out, where is the line drawn? It really becomes totally arbitrary, in this country it has become virtually full term, in the Netherlands evidently it has moved beyond that. Evidently Hitler was just ahead of his time, eliminate the defective for a superior human. Maybe this makes sense in to some people, but it is a very, very slippery slope.

If you're old enough remember "Soylent Green is people".

SnakebyteXX
12-01-2004, 06:55 PM
[ QUOTE ]
Evidently Hitler was just ahead of his time, eliminate the defective for a superior human. Maybe this makes sense in to some people, but it is a very, very slippery slope.
<hr /></blockquote>

Hitler had his own special definition of eugenics. What started as a 'cleansing' of the insane and the mentally retarded soon expanded to encompass a wide range of the general population - including but not limited to Jews, gypsies, communists, homosexuals and anyone who found fault with the Nazi philosophy. Slippery slope doesn't even begin to describe the cliff off which that murderous maniac and his minions led all of Germany and much of Europe during the years of the Nazi occupation.

[ QUOTE ]
I have always maintained that this is a natural consequence and extension of legalized abortion. <hr /></blockquote>

I'm sorry, but I must respectfully disagree. This is a natural consequence of what humans given a choice will do when faced with an agonizing decision. These babies are terminally ill - they are suffering and they are bound to die and nothing that medical science has been able to muster can stop that from happening. How can it not be merciful to intervene and bring an early end to their pain and suffering?

Snake

SpiderMan
12-02-2004, 07:53 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr> I'm sorry, but I must respectfully disagree. This is a natural consequence of what humans given a choice will do when faced with an agonizing decision. These babies are terminally ill - they are suffering and they are bound to die and nothing that medical science has been able to muster can stop that from happening. How can it not be merciful to intervene and bring an early end to their pain and suffering?

Snake
<hr /></blockquote>

I believe the original article did not specify that the new law is aimed at babies in particular, but rather anyone deemed unable to make the decision themselves. The "baby killing" headline was just an attention-grabber. I wonder if this new law could blanket persons who have slipped into a coma, maybe stroke victims, persons with temporary/permanent reduction in mental capacity, old people with Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease, who knows?

SnakebyteXX
12-02-2004, 08:46 AM
Nearly ten years ago my oldest sister who was then 48, had a heart attack and died. She left five children the youngest of whom was eight at the time.

The heart attack was the result of a blood clot that stopped her heart and stemmed the flow of blood to her brain. She was clinically dead for nearly twenty minutes before the ambulance arrived and the medics got her heart started again. But by then it was too late - her body was alive but her brain was dead.

When I arrived at the intensive care unit of the hospital where she had been taken I found her hooked up to life support equipment. Over the next few days the family gathered and exhaustive tests were done for brain activity. Sadly, her brain had been irrevocably damaged. We were told by the Dr.'s that there was no possibility that she would ever come out of the coma -

So we gathered as a family - my parents - my sisters - her husband - her oldest sons and daughters and faced the most agonizing decision of our lives. Should we take her off life support and let her die? Or should we keep her body alive in spite of the fact that her mind was gone?

We held each other and cried - we talked about hope and miracles - and of how precious she was to all of us. We talked about what it would be like for her husband and children to never have her come back.

In the end we chose to have her taken off life support. We chose to let her die.

Then we had to face some really hard stuff. As it turned out there wasn't any medical accommodation that would have allowed us to end her life peacefully. When her heart didn't stop when she was taken off life support the Dr.'s told us we had no other choice but to withdraw food and water.

For two more weeks we stood death watch while my sister slowly died of hunger and thirst. It was an excruciatingly painful experience for everyone involved.

Now if you were to ask me if I thought there was something that should have been done to end her suffering sooner? Or if you were to ask me if I thought my sister died an unnecessarily horrible death because there was not?

My answer would be an unqualified - YES.


Snake

SpiderMan
12-02-2004, 09:08 AM
In your case I agree, a quicker end would have been a better option.

SpiderMan

catscradle
12-03-2004, 11:12 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SpiderMan:</font><hr> ... this new law could blanket persons who have slipped into a coma, maybe stroke victims, persons with temporary/permanent reduction in mental capacity, old people with Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease, who knows? <hr /></blockquote>

As I said already, a very slippery slope indeed.

catscradle
12-03-2004, 11:18 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr> ... She was clinically dead for nearly twenty minutes before the ambulance arrived and the medics got her heart started again. But by then it was too late - her body was alive but her brain was dead.
...
So we gathered as a family - my parents - my sisters - her husband - her oldest sons and daughters and faced the most agonizing decision of our lives. Should we take her off life support and let her die? Or should we keep her body alive in spite of the fact that her mind was gone?
...

Snake <hr /></blockquote>

My family had to go through the same horrific problem with my mother. My wife had to go through it with her brother.
That is not choosing to end a life, it is choosing to NOT artificially extend it even though it is no longer a life. The mistake was she was already dead, and "revived" artificially. Medical science extends "life" too long and then wants to end it when they want.
Your tragic circumstances do not justify "mercy killing", they justify letting nature take it's course and that is exactly what you did.

catscradle
12-03-2004, 11:29 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr> ... How can it not be merciful to intervene and bring an early end to their pain and suffering?

Snake
<hr /></blockquote>

Because it is such a slippery slope. Define "suffering" in a concret legal since. Define "terminally ill". What of a child born with a genetic disease that assures it of a life time of no more than 16 years in pain virtually all that time, but otherwise full functional, normal intellegence, etc. This person is terminally ill and guaranteed to suffer, does this person qualify for a "mercy killing" when they're a month old and unable to decide themselves to jump off a bridge? I think not. Drawing the lines that is the problem, those lines have to be very firm and hard, not wishy-washy. Why not just pop off babies born with genetically transmitted health problems, then it won't be passed on. Why not send the old with Alzeihmer's to never-never land, they don't know what's going on anyway. The problems with euthansia are endless, and that door shouldn't be opened.
IMO. (my not so humble opinion I might add):-)