[Original posted 12:33 PM, Thursday, September 29, 2005]
Feast of Ss. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael
A set of new directives expanding the Netherlands' euthanasia policy, called the Groningen Protocol, is expected to be reviewed in parliament next month. It is thought that the nation of 16 million people sanctions the killing of several thousand people, including about twenty infants, each year. When the law legalizing euthanasia was enacted in 2001, cases of killing "people with no free will," i.e., infants and severely demented or mentally retarded people, remained classified as murder. This distinction has been effectively nullified, however, following judicial precedents involving elderly patients where doctors were acquited, or went unpunished, and the refusal by the Justice Ministry to prosecute since at least 1997 any cases reported to it involving infants, mostly with Spina bifida.
In a Predictable move that will set the stage for how the Dutch will treat other cases in which patients are unable to say whether they want to live or die, such as the mentally handicapped, the new guidelines will permit euthanasia when a child is terminally ill with no alleged prospect of recovery, when he or she is suffering great pain, when two sets of doctors agree the situation is hopeless, and when parents give their consent. Once approved, we can probably expect this to be extended to include the mentally ill in fairly short order. God help us.
Where will this lead? Here, if it's up to the Culture of Death's Peter Singer:
When the traditional ethic of the sanctity of human life is proven indefensible at both the beginning and end of life, a new ethic will replace it. It will recognize that the concept of a person is distinct from that of a member of the species Homo sapiens, and that it is personhood, not species membership, that is most significant in determining when it is wrong to end a life. We will understand that even if the life of a human organism begins at conception, the life of a person—that is, at a minimum, a being with some level of self-awareness—does not begin so early. And we will respect the right of autonomous, competent people to choose when to live and when to die.
The Dutch add polygamy, too (cap tip: RCB).