Groningen Protocol -- Must Read

By GotDesign
I just received the following story from a reader. The story comes from a blog in France operated by two women -- one American, one French. I think the article is to be read using a tone of extreme irony. But when it comes to this issue -- killing unacceptable/inconvenient babies -- I have trouble with this tone. I would prefer that the author(s) take a more serious tone. But here it is for your consideration. I'll follow up with the blog in question and report back later.

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NYC Letter: The Groningen Protocol

No need for alarm. Everything under control here. Just a few babies being tended. Move along.


In August, the main Dutch doctors' association KNMG [De Koninklijke Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot bevordering der Geneeskunst] urged the Health Ministry to create an independent board to review euthanasia cases for terminally ill people "with no free will," including children, the severely mentally retarded and people left in an irreversible coma after an accident.

The Health Ministry is preparing its response, which could come as soon as December, a spokesman said.

[The Groningen Academic Hospital, AZG] in the Netherlands — the first nation to permit euthanasia — recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.

Best to have guidelines for disposing of junk people. But we must admit the novel hysteron proteron approach of the Dutch certainly speeds things along. Oh, just a detail, the Groningen Protocol, with an eye to future enlargement, covers children up to twelve years.

The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital's guidelines have come to be known, would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively end the life of newborns deemed to be in similar pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities.

The conditional indicates outcomes that are dependent on some qualifying requirement being met. The above sentence is tautological mush: If the Protocol were given the force of law it would provide a framework for such law. Yet people read right over this sort of mud and think they've learned something.

The suggestion is that the Protocol is part of some legislative process. It is not. It is a coterie of doctors having their way in the maternity ward of the Groningen Academic Hospital.

The hospital has revealed it carried out four such mercy killings in 2003, and reported all cases to government prosecutors. There have been no legal proceedings against the hospital or the doctors.

"As things are, people are doing this secretly and that's wrong," said Eduard Verhagen, head of Groningen's children's clinic. "In the Netherlands we want to expose everything, to let everything be subjected to vetting."

Hhmmm. Silly us, we would have thought that acting without the sanction of law might be what was wrong. Mr. Verhagen introduces an interesting legal if not moral construct. Although Groningen's doctors had no authority in law to euthanize infants, telling the papers about it, "to expose everything", happily exculpates the obvious criminality. This is a classic "bait and switch":

Well, I may be killing babies, but at least I'm not a craven hypocrite about it. (Warm applause. A beautiful bouquet of roses is presented.) Can anything be more detestable than those cowardly secretive euthanizers? (Uniform woeful head-shaking. No one can think one thought more detestable. Fists are shaken. A pencil is broken!)

The Daily Standard reports:

For anyone paying attention to the continuing collapse of medical ethics in the Netherlands, this isn't at all shocking. Dutch doctors have been surreptitiously engaging in eugenic euthanasia of disabled babies for years, although it technically is illegal, since infants can't consent to be killed. Indeed, a disturbing 1997 study published in the British medical journal, the Lancet, revealed how deeply pediatric euthanasia has already metastasized into Dutch neo natal medical practice: According to the report, doctors were killing approximately 8 percent of all infants who died each year in the Netherlands. That amounts to approximately 80-90 per year. Of these, one-third would have lived more than a month. At least 10-15 of these killings involved infants who did not require life-sustaining treatment to stay alive. The study found that a shocking 45 percent of neo-natologists and 31 percent of pediatricians who responded to questionnaires had killed infants.

It took the Dutch almost 30 years for their medical practices to fall to the point that Dutch doctors are able to engage in the kind of euthanasia activities that got some German doctors hanged after Nuremberg. For those who object to this assertion by claiming that German doctors killed disabled babies during World War II without consent of parents, so too do many Dutch doctors: Approximately 21 percent of the infant euthanasia deaths occurred without request or consent of parents. Moreover, since when did parents attain the moral right to have their children killed?

We are not pretending there aren't difficult issues here. The good doctors of AZG feel they've figured it all out. What? You don't agree? Yeah, well, drop dead -- unless you need an assist.

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Look for updates here later.

I received an e-mail in reply to my attempts to determine whether the author of the "NYC Letter" was being darkly sarcastic or serious. The author stated that he/she was being sarcastic and that this was his/her style. Personally, I had difficulty seeing the sarcasm for what it is. I'm not slow or stupid, but there was no contrast between the sarcastic statements and the quoted materials in the article. While I don't particularly care for sarcasm on subjects like these, I will withhold judgement. When it comes right down to brass tacks, the Groningen Protocol is a manifestation of evil. 'Nuff said.

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