Dutch Parliament passes proposal for child euthanasia


Western Europe


The Dutch Erasmuc Medical Centre Sophie Children's hospital. Photo ANP, Robin van Lonkhuijsen

The Dutch MPs have shown overwhelming support for a regulation that allows euthanasia for children between 1 and 12 years old.

Children as young as one year old should be able to undergo euthanasia if their suffering is unbearably and endlessly, the regulation of Health Minister Kuipers reads. Currently, he is finishing the last details of the text, which is supported by the majority of the Dutch Parliament. The Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad points out that only part of the MPs had some critical remarks and would rather have had a law instead of a regulation.

On Wednesday, the Dutch Parliament debated the issue. Only the Reformed party SGP expressed its opposition and called the regulation "a bridge too far." MP Chris Stoffer says he would rather have had a law amendment because child euthanasia is such a sensitive topic. "Especially then, you should go through the whole process of lawmaking and not show up with a ministerial regulation about which we cannot debate and vote."


Also, Corinne Ellemeet, MP for the Green-Left party, would rather have seen a law amendment than a regulation. Most likely, her motivation is different from Stoffer's: the Reformatorisch Dagblad suspects that she wanted it because it is more complicated to change than a regulation.

Health Minister Kuipers wipes these arguments from the table. He says that he chose a regulation because an amendment "will take much more time" to implement, he stressed during the debate. In addition, he pointed out that the regulation is only important for very few people. For a law amendment, you need more cases, he explained. According to him, there are about three to eight children a year who would be eligible for euthanasia.

The Dutch Christian Union says to be open to the regulation, be it under certain conditions. Party leader Mirjam Bikker promised that her party would examine the regulation on its clarity that it is only about rare cases where palliative care is insufficient, suffering is acute and judicial review is adequate.

Minister Kuipers expects that the regulation can come into force on January 1, 2024.



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