Experts to judge baby euthanasia in Netherlands
29 November 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government is to enforce strict rules for doctors who end the life of a seriously ill foetus or newborn baby.
29 November 2005
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government is to enforce strict rules for doctors who end the life of a seriously ill foetus or newborn baby.
A commission of experts will examine each case after the life termination is carried out to decide if the rules were adhered to. The commission will then advise the Public Persecutor's Office (OM) whether the doctors involved should be prosecuted, newspaper 'De Volkskrant' reported on Tuesday.
*sidebar1*A spokesperson for the Health Ministry confirmed the newspaper's story.
Junior Health Minister Clemence Ross and Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner sent a letter to Parliament on Tuesday outlining the new regime.
It remains illegal for medical personnel to terminate a life without an express request from the patient.
Doctors in the Netherlands annually terminate the lives of a few dozen newborn babies who are believed to be suffering intolerably. On average 15 times per year a pregnancy is terminated after 24 weeks on the same grounds.
These cases should all be reported to the OM, but this hardly ever happens because the doctors are afraid of being prosecuted.
The government hopes to encourage full reporting by establishing the new commission of experts between the medical profession and prosecutors. The commission will consist of three doctors, a lawyer and an ethicist.
Ross has agreed new criteria with the OM that doctors must follow to avoid prosecution.
The criteria amount to a formalising of the "Groningse protocol", rules drawn up by doctors in the northern Dutch city of Groningen in relation to ending the life of a seriously ill baby or foetus. This protocol has been adopted as a guideline by doctors all over the Netherlands.
The guideline states that the diagnosis and prognosis must be explained to the parents, and the doctor must consult an independent colleague before terminating the life.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news