Do Children Have A Right To Die? Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 24 2014 @ 6:46pm

A reader feels that Belgium is moving in the right direction to legalize euthanasia for terminally-ill kids:

I don’t see why we should force a child to suffer when death is imminent in the short term, the child wants to die, the parents consent, and the doctors are in agreement. I think people in the US need to be much more rational and realistic about these things. The reality is that with the advances in modern medicine, we are also condemning people to longer suffering before we allow them to die. Now that we have the power to postpone death almost indefinitely, we should wield that power wisely and humanely.

But another is skeptical:

The problem with the “guidelines” is that they slowly but inevitably widen. In the Netherlands, you can now obtain assisted suicide when you suffer from normal geriatric conditions like hearing/sight loss/fatigue, or mental health issues such as depression. And these guidelines also have to work in conjunction with a patient’s right to refuse a particular treatment. So you have a situation where a depressed person can be a suicidal (a symptom of their condition) and refuse therapy or medication because it is their right to do so, and then can opt for assisted suicide because their suffering is unbearable to them (to mention nothing of the informed consent issues around such patients). And the Netherlands have already used their euthanasia laws to euthanize babies born with severe spina bifida, despite the fact that such children could live long and fruitful lives with modern pain-reduction treatments.

It’s much harder to close the gate once it’s open. I’d prefer any country use its resources to improve pain management rather than bring in these laws.

A Dutch reader unloads:

How dare this reader judge the fate of these babies.

Let me first protest with the phrasing of the reader. The Netherlands – as a country – did not use their laws. The Netherlands – as a country – democratically passed complex laws with the intent of limiting the suffering of patients. The parents of those babies made a heart-wrenching choice. And who better to have the freedom of deciding the fate of their babies than the parents? These decision are not taken lightly. This is not an easy process.

Again, how dare that reader evaluate the life of those babies, while he knows nothing else than an ethics paper describing the legal path the parents chose. As a Dutch citizen, I get pretty pissed when foreigners denigrate our thoughtful laws to bylines. The legal framework of all these laws is incredibly thoughtful and thorough. These are good processes. They offer choices and freedom. Nobody is being forced to do anything at all. The only way you can object is if you just object by principle to whatever is allowed. But you should realize then that you are letting your freedom of religion limit the freedoms of others.

(And now a little rant – maybe not appropriate, but it gots to get out)

It pisses me off even more when supposedly freedom-loving Americans criticize our laws. A couple of reminders:

– We were the first country to recognize the US as an independent nation.
– We were the first to realize that everybody deserves the freedom to marry whom they choose. We have a lower divorce rate than the US.
– We were the first not to go bonkers on pot. We have considerably lower drug use rates than the US.
– We were pretty early on with a very balanced abortion law that works and does not allow partial birth abortion.
– We have a lower abortion rate as well as a lower teen-pregnancy rate.
– We were one of the first with a decent euthanasia law. The US has a hysterical debate about death panels.

(end rant)

By the way, the minister who enacted many of our laws, Els Borst, was found dead laying next to her car recently. Police is investigating and hold all options open.

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