Friday, 20 January 2012

Milestones to Adulthood in the Netherlands and Slippery Slopes

Compulsory education exists from 5-16.  From the age of 16 to their 18th birthday children are obliged to pursue at least part-time education.

The age of consent to sexual relations is 16.

Children cannot purchase tobacco products until the age of 16.

The minimum age to buy wine and beer is 16 and 18 to buy spirits and hard liquor.  If a person is under 20 an identity card has to be shown before purchasing.

Children can enlist in the army at 17

Children cannot drive a vehicle until the age of 18.

Children cannot vote until the age of 18.

Children cannot marry until the age of 18, although they can with parental consent at age 16 and with permission from the queen if under 16.

The age of criminal responsibility is 12.

Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act.

A patient of at least 12 years of age can request a termination of life (patients12-16 require the consent of their parents).

Slippery Slopes

Deliberate termination of life of newborns (involuntary euthanasia) with meningomyelocele (MMC) is practiced openly only in the Netherlands using the Groningen Protocol.

The Groningen Protocol is very controversial and as elicited papers such as ‘Deliberate termination of life of newborns with spina bifida, a critical reappraisal,” T.H. Rob de Jong (2007)

Isabel’s comment (Jan 19) to the previous post would suggest that the slippery slope exists here and that newborns – who fall outside the Groningen Protocol are terminated -  and I have no doubt that it is does.  I am certain that deliberate termination of life of newborns now covers more than those born with MMC and is unreported.


It would be foolish of me to infer that the rest of the world is squeaky clean in regard to the termination of children deemed to be handicapped and not worthy of life – for abortion allows this.  However is there a difference in terminating a life before or after birth?  What do you think?

Do you think a child of twelve and above has the maturity to decide that their life should be terminated especially as the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act has been given more scope including ““mental and psychosocial ailments” such as “loss of function, loneliness and loss of autonomy” as acceptable criteria for euthanasia. The guidelines also allow doctors to connect a patient’s lack of “social skills, financial resources and a social network” to “unbearable and lasting suffering,” opening the door to legal assisted death based on “psychosocial” factors, not terminal illness. The June 2011 position paper, titled “The Role of the Physician in the Voluntary Termination of Life” concludes that the “concept of suffering” is “broader” than its “interpretation and application by many physicians today.”

Included in a broader interpretation of suffering would be “disorders affecting vision, hearing and mobility, falls, confinement to bed, fatigue, exhaustion and loss of fitness,” according to the authors.

“The patient perceives the suffering as interminable, his existence as meaningless and—though not directly in danger of dying from these complaints—neither wishes to experience them nor, insofar as his history and own values permit, to derive meaning from them,” explains the KNMG position paper.

“In the KNMG’s view, such cases are sufficiently linked to the medical domain to permit a physician to act within the confines of the Euthanasia Law.”

“It doesn’t always have to be a physical ailment, it could be the onset of dementia or chronic psychological problems, it’s still unbearable and lasting suffering. It doesn’t always have to be a terminal disease,” said Dr. Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman, Chairman of KNMG to Radio Netherlands Worldwide.”

Anna :o]

PS Can't 'understand' the sudden white background - blogs or me?


Jenny Woolf said...

I'm astonished and wonder at the rationale for 12. Many perfectly fit and healthy teenagers get awful depressions and think they want to die .

Witch Doctor said...

"Of the paediatricians, 44% agreed with the age limit of 12 years, and 52% agreed with the requirement that parents be involved."

So, does it seem that almost half (48%) of the paediatricians who responded felt a child of 12 can have his/her life terminated by a doctor without parental permission, and presumably would welcome a change in the law to this effect??

HyperCRYPTICal said...


I wonder at the rationale too as it is a rare teenager who escapes the angst of puberty.

It is probable in the original act that it was accepted that children also experienced undeniable pain during a terminal illness and I guess ‘deserved’ the right to self-determination re their death. However then the slippery slope begins for what of the rights of children under twelve?

Anna :o]

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Witch Doctor

It certainly could be construed in that way. Unfortunately I am unable to access the full article so cannot know how the questions were formulated – however I think you are correct in that it appears almost half of the paediatricians felt a child of twelve could determine to terminate their own life without parental involvement. Oh the power of deciding life or death – it becomes easier and easier.

I think this blog by Alex Schadenberg might interest you:

Anna :o]

Witch Doctor said...


have had a brief look at above blog and found this:

Might be worth checking out further.

Isabel Doyle said...

It seems like legalised murder, seriously. And in the Netherlands, Doctor is King : arrogant, unquestionable, unapproachable; almost above the law. Horrific in a country that sees itself as super-civilised and otherwise forward-thinking, lenient (about drugs and sex), intelligent ... leaders of the world they tell me.

On another matter, I am relieved to read that you too are experiencing the 'white-out' on Blogger as I feared it was yet another form of local censorship.

Isabel x

Witch Doctor said...

Here is a link to the trailer of the euthanasia film that is being offered for purchase to UK schools. Presumably it is only aimed at older pupils studying philosophy. It does indeed include a conversation with Dr Philip Nitschke and also Lord Joffe. The trailer is therefore totally biased towards assisted suicide. Hopefully the full film will be more balanced. Presumably teachers will need to buy it before they can find out.

Doctor X said...

The Netherlands is a funny mixture of Liberalism and Calvinism. It is the country of Gert Wilders as well as coffee shops.

We travelled down this slippery slope before. Fifty years ago doctors were tried and jailed for abortions, now abortion is widely seen as a form of birth control. It is unremarkeable for fetuses to be aborted for even mild abnormalities such as club foot.

Some see this as right and proper, some not, but the same moral argument applies. When life appears to be sub optimal then there are those who believe it convenient that it ends.

It is indeed a slippery slope that we have slid down.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Witch Doctor

Many thanks for the link – unfortunately unable to establish as ‘no results found.’ I have attempted to locate the video myself - without success. Please could you check the link and reprovide?

Another interesting and informative post on Schadenbergs blog can be found here: in which it is stated “The United Nations has found that the euthanasia law in the Netherlands is in violation of its Universal Declaration of Human Rights because of the risk it poses to the rights of safety and integrity for every person’s life. The UN has also expressed concern that the system may fail to detect and to prevent situations in which people could be subjected to undue pressure to access or to provide euthanasia and could circumvent the safeguards that are in place. …”

In ‘fairness’ to the Netherlands, the same article also shows that Belgium – where assisted suicide is legalised too – is very much sliding down the slippery slope.

Worrying stuff.

Anna :o]

HyperCRYPTICal said...


The above link in response to the Witch Doctors comment provides an insight into the ‘thinking’ of some members of the Dutch medical profession and those in Belgium and gives the impression that some doctors do indeed think that they are above the law.

Working as I do in health I realize that there is a very thin line between professional distance – this is required as intense involvement between worker and patient is often destructive – and becoming devoid of feeling to the suffering of others. It is a very thin line and once crossed deciding death does become easier. (I must state that a life or death decision is not down me – yet my thoughts are sometimes sought when the LCP is considered).

Anna :o]

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Doctor X

Many thanks for your honest comment.

I think the slippery slope exists to a minor (hopefully) extent here with regards to abortion - in the sifting out feotuses who are deemed to be too handicapped and not deserving of life.

Indeed it is true that if abortion had been legal in my mothers’ time – I met the criteria for abortion and might not be writing this now…

Slippery slopes…

Anna :o]

Witch Doctor said...


When I cut and paste the link above it works for me. Don't know why it's not showing for you.

Here it is again:

Here is a link to the website that markets this and many other videos.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks WD

Link still won’t work if I cut and paste (odd) but gained link directly off email version of your comment – should have looked there originally!

I agree that the link is biased and I wonder if any more schools have invested in it. I have no problem with schoolchildren who have the maturity to debate this issue doing so – but a biased presentation is a slow road to indoctrination. I have viewed many videos on assisted dying/suicide and I must admit becoming confused as to what my actual beliefs were after viewing original cases in which the persons involved – more often than not in the final stage of cancer – were desperate to die to relieve their suffering. I believe they have a valid case – but then what of the ogre of slippery slopes when end of life requires assistance?

It is a difficult matter – but I guess I was brought to my senses when watching an Australian debate and the speaker – a Dr Sarah Edelman, Dying with Dignity NSW – stated “Do we need to provide adequate safeguards to protect the vulnerable? Absolutely! Legalisation needs to ensure that a request for assistance is voluntary, that there is the mental capacity to provide consent, that suffer is irreversible and that other options have been considered. But let us not kid ourselves that it is impossible to provide adequate safeguards, that’s just a lame argument by groups with an anti-choice agenda.”
That she agreed that safeguards were required, to me, suggested she realised the possibility of abuse and thus destroyed her own position.

I also came across this blog and its author gives an often unheard view of those with disabilities, who feel that with the media bias toward ?promoting assisted suicide/dying - they are viewed as lesser beings, and not given a voice unless they are prepared to state that death is the only option. The author makes some interesting observations on this particular post.

Anna :o]

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