A study published today in the Dutch Journal of Medicine reveals that doctors in the Netherlands have been killing infants born with disabilities at least since 1997, despite euthanasia of children being illegal in that country.
Dr. Eduard Verhagen, a pediatrician at Groningen University Medical Center and one of the study’s authors, is a well-known advocate of euthanasia. As reported by WorldNetDaily, Verhagen has boasted of killing four seriously deformed babies within the last two years.
“The babies are there but we were never allowed to talk about them. That must change. If we take this awfully difficult decision, it must happen with complete openness,” said Verhagen, who hopes the study encourages doctors to report incidents of euthanasia without fear of prosecution.
“You are trained to save the life of a child but with these children the suffering can only be stopped by ending their lives. It takes courage to do that.”
Today’s report cites 22 cases of babies born with spina bifida who were euthanized in the U.K. between 1997 and 2004. In all cases, prosecutors dismissed the cases because doctors had complied with unofficial conditions that are not part of the Dutch legal code.
Prosecutors ignored cases where the baby had no chance of survival and was suffering and where a second doctor and the parents concurred with the decision to euthanize. The means of ending the newborn’s life had to be “in the correct medical way,” as well.
“There is a small group of children for whom no treatment is possible for the congenital disease and malformations they are born with,” Verhagen told the London Telegraph last month, explaining why he had chosen to break the law. “Asking doctors to take away the pain easily and allow the child to die quietly is the natural reaction.
“For the incurable to die early requires that we do this or they enter a starvation phase and what suffering is more unbearable than a minor left to die from natural causes such as these.”
While prosecutors have declined to take action against the doctor, various pro-life groups have condemned him. The Vatican labeled Verhagen and other physicians involved in medical killings of infants as little better than the Nazi medical workers who killed defective newborns to create Hitler’s master race.
“This is a Darwinian nightmare and a grave violation of the laws of God,” a spokesman for Wim Eijk, the Roman Catholic bishop in Groningen said last week. “It is crossing a boundary thus far prohibited in every code. Euthanasia for children in circumstances where it is not possible to seek or secure the consent of those affected. It is a slippery slope that will give doctors the right to impose life or death, and will lead to an argument that it should be extended to all.”
Currently, Dutch doctors who support Dr. Verhagen are regularly reporting “neo-natal” deaths to the national prosecutor’s office in the Hague in an attempt to force a prosecution and confrontation over the practice in the courts. The lack of prosecution, thus far, is being used to support their claim that the practice is humane and that it should no longer be done in secret, but openly, with government protection for doctors.