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News Summary 20 September

20 September 2016

A protest against the law allowing euthanasia for children, in Brussels, 2014. Credit: Reuters

"Child euthanasia centre imminent" in the Netherlands

Professor Eduard Verhagen, who is responsible for the Groningen protocol for the euthanasia of infants, has predicted that a centre for the euthanasia of children will open within a year in the Netherlands.

Under current Dutch legislation, euthanasia is legal for infants up to a year old, and for children over the age of twelve. However, according to Professor Verhagen, who the Dutch newspaper AD calls "the authority in the field of child euthanasia", doctors are already investigating the practice of euthanasia for children between the ages of one and twelve. "We think that some children under the age of twelve are well able to make such important decisions," he said.

Prof Verhagen also added that the Netherlands is keeping a close eye on developments in Belgium, which recently reported the first case of euthanasia on a minor.

"Overwhelming majority" of Danes in favour of euthanasia

The recent conviction of a 78-year-old Danish man, who assisted the suicide of his paralysed 71-year old wife, has fuelled debate on euthanasia in Denmark.

Last week, Mogens Arlund was convicted of assisted suicide and given a 50 day jail sentence after giving his wife Vibeke Arlund a lethal dose of twenty sleeping pills. In an ensuing opinion poll carried out by television channel TV2, 79% of respondents said that Danish law should allow "active death-help" as an option.

However, Gorm Greisen, the chairman of Denmark's Ethical Council, which has rejected euthanasia on a number of occasions, said that it would be ethically wrong to institutionalise "active death-help". Mr Greisen has argued that popular acceptance of euthanasia could go wrong, citing Nazi Germany, where people considered "unworthy of living" were put to death. The Danish government is said to back the Ethical Council, and to be firmly against legalising euthanasia.

Grieving mother "haunted" by "incompatible with life" diagnosis

A mother has spoken about her experience of hearing that her unborn baby was "incompatible with life".

Hayley Rice's daughter Sydney was diagnosed with the chromosomal condition Edward's syndrome at her twenty week scan. "The words the consultant used were that Sydney was 'incompatible with life' - it was a shock to hear. All the staff at the hospital were amazing, but that phrase was quite haunting and has really stuck with me."

Baby Sydney Martin died just over an hour after she was born, but her mother Hayley, her father Kevin Martin and their daughters were determined to spend as much time with her as possible. "... Deep down we knew she wouldn't survive for long, and we wanted to spend quality time with her by holding her and loving her," Sydney’s mother said.

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