According to news reports out of the Netherlands, the northern European country is preparing to legalize the practice of euthanasia for children ages 1 through 12.
The Netherlands already has some of the most permissive policies on euthanasia in the world. For instance, the practice of intentionally ending the life of youth 12 and older, as well as infants under 1, is already permitted in certain circumstances. This new change will open up the practice to all children, so long as the child is deemed terminally ill.
The decision was made after the country's health minister, Hugo de Jonge, made the case for euthanizing terminally ill children before the Dutch Parliament.
"[It should be allowed for] a small group of terminally ill children who agonize with no hope, and unbearable suffering," de Jonge said, adding that doing so would only apply to five to 10 children per year who are suffering, "as a result in some cases unnecessarily, for a long time, without any prospect of improvement."
The new policy allows for what is called "palliative care," meaning that doctors may not prescribe lethal drugs to kill the patient, but instead may permanently sedate them, withholding necessary nutrients until they die.
Pro-life advocates like Wesley J. Smith of Discovery Institute object to the measure.
"Once death is in the driver's seat, it never hits the brakes," Smith said.
Smith wrote that he expects the terminally ill requirement will eventually be repealed and the practice be expanded through ethical loopholes and a medical "gray area."