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Bishop condemns Dutch proposal for euthanasia of children

The vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life has condemned a Dutch proposal extending the possibility of euthanasia to children under the age of 12.

Catholic World News reports that Bishop Elio Sgreccia said that with this policy, "the final boundary will have been crossed."

In a strongly worded L'Osservatore Romano article on euthanasia in the Netherlands, Bishop Sgreccia warned of a "moral relativism" that has "anesthetised society", aggravated by an approach to medicine that accentuates economic factors rather than the welfare of the sick.

The Italian bishop observed that Dutch law, approved by that country's parliament in April 2002, allows for assisted suicide, in cases when the patient is suffering from an incurable disease and gives "explicit, rational, and repeated" consent for his own death.

The law allows euthanasia not only for adults but also for teenagers who make a written request and (if they are under 16) have their parents' approval. But a new proposal would extend the option of assisted suicide to children under 12. Bishop Sgreccia insisted that for children that young, "we certainly cannot speak of valid consent."

The bishop noted that the latest protocol for euthanasia, developed by clinicians at a university clinic in Groningen together with judicial authorities, is not available to the public. However, reports about the contents of that new policy are "profoundly disturbing," he said.

Bishop condemns Dutch proposal for euthanasia of children (Catholic World News 3/9/04)

Catholic Doctors Criticize Nonconsensual Euthanasia of Children in Holland (Zenit 3/9/04)

7 Sep 2004