Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Dutch Can't Wait To Start Killing Babies

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.
...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.

It seems clear that such review would be done after the fact:
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.

It is fortunate that Stephen Hawking is English.
The Groningen Medical Academy believes it is only doing what everybody else does anyway--just ask the anonymous experts of secret medical crimes:
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."

"Can we kill this baby?"
"Too late."

But of course that happens just across town from you, only your doctors aren't as honest as the Dutch. Just ask the experts.
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.

I've often thought that the job of bioethicists is not to ensure the limits on science are crafted by people knowledgeable in the subject matter, but rather to find the most popular 'spin' on research and techniques so that science has no limits at all. Dr. Stell seems a good example.

There is a vast difference between rejecting "measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours or days or weeks", and injecting "a sedative and a lethal dose of muscle relaxant" to end life instantly. The Vatican, hardly a vacillating moderate on this issue, describes the first as licit and the second as evil.

The general public understands this difference full well. We don't describe rejecting chemotherapy as a form of euthanasia.

But this view is not useful to Dr. Stell or other "experts".

Thankfully we have elected a President who is not mesmerized by labcoats.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know it's an ancient post but, ouch, Lance Stell? He's a dueling advocate, as in dueling in place of court. As you might expect, his views on "medical supervision" etc. are a little extreme. I'm sure he'd count a hospice nurse, prescription drugs, and Medicare paperwork as existential government matters. Which they are, yes, but they are better than the common alternates and the whole business is generally handled by civilians who considering themselves as independent agents and so on. I guess that might be your point, it's hard to tell if you are critical of Stell's politics or his wobbly bioethics reports.