“Help”

The Dutch government will permit doctors to euthanise terminally ill children aged between one and 12 after months of debate within the ruling coalition.

The country’s health minister, Hugo de Jonge, said a change in regulations was necessary to help “a small group of terminally ill children who agonise with no hope, and unbearable suffering”.

The euthanasia of children has a very long history within our species. But still – “Help”?

42 thoughts on ““Help””

  1. Between one and twelve months seems as bit extreme. It’s well past the “Let’s just take him into the next room to check him, ooo, sorry Mrs Van Dijk, it’s a “stillbirth”.”

  2. @jgh: Slight misreading there. It’s between one and twelve years. The sentence could have been better written.

  3. Where is the boundary of “agonise with no hope, and unbearable suffering”? Any creature, from an earthworm to a foetus, wants to live. I suppose the Dutch will say that this policy is designed for only a very few hopeless cases, and that we’ve come a long way from the days when you could expose your child o a mountainside merely for having a club foot (Oedipus) but does anyone think this category will shrink? Of course not; like abortion it will expand on the whim of mothers’ rights.

  4. Twelve *years*? Eeek! Abortion allowed up to the 153rd month? “Make sure you pass your 11-plus or it’s curtains for you!”

  5. What an enlightened and noble country, to allow such help for its children.

    Is there some sort of political union that we could join, so that we might also benefit from closer cooperation with them?

  6. @jgh
    Might help with discipline though. The advert writes itself…

    ‘Go to your room!’ not working?
    Bring your errant brat to KidsBeGone™ and solve your child problems today!

  7. One of my favourite jokes was “My mother wanted an abortion but the doctor said fourth grade was too late.” So that’s gone the way of “Is the Pope a catholic?”

  8. I refer to a message posted here a while back about putting down my dog. Charlie was fucked, knew it, and suffering the pain of his tumour. He only had hours or a day to live. I HELPED Charlie by agreeing with the vet that the kind and moral thing to do was to end it all. I would not have that choice for a family member in similar circumstances. I am not proposing a euthanasia free-for-all. I do think a well regulated and controlled choice is needed though. Prolonging suffering for the sake of it is not a civilised way to behave. Society has become too disconnected from the reality and necessity of death. Some legal path to a merciful dying option is right.

  9. Maybe they’ll bring the death penalty back for real crimes like murder etc?

    But no. Only the innocent can be guilty.

  10. Patrick – people aren’t dogs tho.

    The goal of medical intervention shouldn’t be to prolong suffering, but actively killing human beings as a “medical” treatment is a whole different kettle of murder.

  11. The point is it shouldn’t be ‘murder’ to end someone’s suffering.

    At the end of the Falklands War a big fire broke out in an area where Argentinian PoWs were held. One got trapped somehow and couldn’t move. He was being rapidly burned alive and in the most terrible agony, with no hope of survival. A 3 Para sergeant stepped forward and shot him in the head with his SLR. I say the sergeant performed an act of mercy (and the Board of Enquiry concurred). You say he committed murder. I think you are wrong.

  12. I’m fine with euthanasia – if everyone who does it then faces a court to decide whether it was euthanasia or not….

  13. Diogenes
    The solution is to carry a DNR card. And for dementia make your wishes clear in advance, preferably notarised.
    Fine for adults, but for children?

  14. Patrick – do we think, maybe, that desperate decisions made in the heat of a literal fire might not actually tell us much about what doctors should do in cold blood when faced with a toddler who has cancer? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Is death the only way to reduce suffering? Do we have the right to bump off kiddies? Do we want doctors to be our executioners? Will they at least get a black hood? What happens when, inevitably, parents disagree with medical professionals? Given what we now know about slippery, slidey slopes, how confident are we about tap-dancing on the precipice of this one?

  15. Good questions Steve – and indeed we would need a clear and defendable basis for deciding – with challenge / appeal. Parents wishes should come first.
    One aspect I would advocate if I was running things would be for those who perform the final act (injection?) to not be doctors. Legally. All ex doctors but now legally in a different profession and no longer subject to the Hypocratic Oath.

  16. Dennis, Understated As Always

    You can take the clog wog out of Germany, but you can’t take the Germany out of the clog wog.

  17. Bloke in North Dorset

    Patrick,

    When we lived in Bucks one of neighbours died after “a long battle with cancer”. When I offered my condolences to his widow her first comment was that you wouldn’t put a dog through that. Apparently it got quite gruesome at the end.

    The Falklands incident happened at Goose Greene and in the telling in Don’t Cry For Me Sargent Major the other PoWs thanked him, apart from one officer who complained.

    https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/written-answers/1983/apr/11/argentine-prisoners-death-and-injury

  18. I’ve told this story in here before. When the nurse and the McMillan and I agreed that my dying wife’s morphine pump should be turned up a couple of notches we all knew exactly what we were doing, even if the words were never spoken. Call me what you like. I know it was the right thing to do

  19. So Much For Subtlety

    Patrick October 15, 2020 at 10:23 am – “I HELPED Charlie by agreeing with the vet that the kind and moral thing to do was to end it all.”

    He is a dog. Killing him is not a big deal. We kill dogs all the time for lesser reasons or no reasons at all. I have put dogs down. They knew and they were afraid. They did not want to go. I can say it was the kind thing to do. Maybe it was. But it was my decision but not my life.

    “I am not proposing a euthanasia free-for-all.”

    As they did not propose an abortion free-for-all or a Gay free-for-all either. But you cannot open the gate without the horses bolting. Once we become a society that thinks it is normal to kill people who are inconvenient, we will be killing all sorts of people.

    “I do think a well regulated and controlled choice is needed though. Prolonging suffering for the sake of it is not a civilised way to behave.”

    I disagree but it is a strawman. No one is suggesting suffering for the sake of suffering. People do suggest that the best pain relief in the world is better than killing people because they make us uncomfortable.

    Patrick October 15, 2020 at 10:41 am – “The point is it shouldn’t be ‘murder’ to end someone’s suffering.”

    My neighbour likes Elton John. He is clearly suffering.

    Patrick October 15, 2020 at 10:57 am – “I’d prefer a ruling in advance of the act.”

    Of course you would. Gay people suffer a lot because society is so cruel and uncaring. It might be nice to have a Court order to say it is not a crime to put them out of their suffering. But then again maybe not.

    Diogenes October 15, 2020 at 11:13 am – “If I had bad Alzheimers, I think I would prefer to be euthanised rather than kept alive.”

    A lot of people say that. But few of them go through with it.

    Patrick October 15, 2020 at 12:44 pm – “Good questions Steve – and indeed we would need a clear and defendable basis for deciding – with challenge / appeal.”

    So you think doctors should be able to sue to kill? Or parents need to sue to prevent their child being killed?

    Gus October 15, 2020 at 1:43 pm – “Call me what you like. I know it was the right thing to do”

    How can a court distinguish that from what Doctor Shipman did?

  20. I’m fine with a person choosing to suicide*. But babies can’t choose.

    *I’d be useless on a helpline, as I believe in the absolute sovereignty of a person over their own body**, so it would be repugnant of me to interfere with somebody choosing to do what they wish to their own body.

    **Indeed, all philosophy of human liberty starts with the axiom that one owns one’s own body, and builds from there.

  21. “I’m fine with euthanasia – if everyone who does it then faces a court to decide whether it was euthanasia or not….”

    Not a court, but an euthanasia request has to be logged with, and approved by, an “OvJ” (senior police officer charged with judging cases you needn’t bother a judge with ) by the physician in charge.
    This has always been the case. Failure to do so will result in a manslaughter charge for the physician and anyone involved…

    This particular law actually enfranchises the kids themselves. They could not legally express their death-wish, and any mercy was legally impossible. This has now been adressed.
    The actual opposition here was from the “God’s Will” crowd. Lots of hot air, totaly apprehensible logic in trying to block this, and good food for the Media, who got it ass-backwards anyway.

    And for the peeps getting their panties bunched here…
    The alternative is “Little Timmy Forced to Die Screaming In Pain At Age 9″…
    Want to try how that shoe fits?

  22. Grikath

    “Little Timmy Forced to Die Screaming In Pain At Age 9″

    Well there is that tendentious reading of it, palliative medicine be damned. However there is also the “it’s not a life worth living” crowd, who seem very keen to apply their dogma.

    Normalising the accelerated ending of life will end us up in a very dark place. ‘Hard cases make bad law’ is a good maxim and no amount of straw-manning over Little Timmy’s gets you round the point that you need to have concrete First Principles, and the first one of those is that the right to life is the fundamental right.

  23. Recusant… That law takes effect when palliative medicine does not work anymore, or would be lethal in and of itself..
    There’s some rock-hard conditions in the entire set of laws that are specifically set up to preserve the “right to life” as much as humanly possible.

    If someone chooses to go that route, you can be damn sure there is a serious death wish.
    The stack of paperwork and legalities involved is lethal in and of itself.
    Anyone “sane” or capable would sooner find solace in any of the other options, and have things written off as suicide. Which still regularly happens, because there’s so many hoops to jump through.

  24. SMFS

    “A lot of people say that. But few of them go through with it.”

    how much of that is down to the fact that the Alzheimer’s sufferer lacks agency and, therefore, other people have to make the decision on his behalf? it doesn’t invalidate the fact that I would hope my partner would not want to see a vegetable wandering around, shitting himself and not knowing his address

  25. Dennis, Pointing Out The Obvious

    If it was here in the UK, how long before someone is euthanised to save the NHS?

    Any time a bit of Aktion T4 starts sounding like a good idea – but only under “certain circumstances”, of course – remember the above question.

    We already have “medical ethicists” like Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of Rahm Emanuel) advocating that the septic herd be culled starting at age 70 or so… for the good of “society”. Emanuel is 63, and I’m waiting to see what he does at age 70. My bet is not on him voluntarily culling himself. That shit’s for “other people”.

    If history teaches us anything, there is never a short supply of those willing to kill others in the name of the “general good”.

    This is slippery slope stuff.

  26. This one definitely tips the balance into murder in my opinion:- https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-45117163
    (The troubled 29-year-old helped to die by Dutch doctors)

    This one too:-https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51322781
    (Belgium euthanasia: Three doctors cleared in landmark trial)

    We’ve already slid down the slippery slope here.

  27. “He is a dog. Killing him is not a big deal”

    Bollocks. If you care for dogs it’s always a big deal.

    I despair. As usual.

  28. So Much For Subtlety

    “Bollocks. If you care for dogs it’s always a big deal.”

    Oh for f**ks sake. Grown ups are talking.

  29. So Much For Subtlety

    Diogenes October 15, 2020 at 3:51 pm – “it doesn’t invalidate the fact that I would hope my partner would not want to see a vegetable wandering around, shitting himself and not knowing his address”

    That may be true. But it is also true that 99% of my father gone still means 1% of him is still there. A valuable 1%. I find it hard to believe anyone can enjoy life when they are 99 but people have made their preferences clear when they reach 98. After death we know nothing. It terrifies people. It is easy to say we would prefer something else when that is not a choice we have to face.

  30. Gus October 15, 2020 at 1:43 pm – “Call me what you like. I know it was the right thing to do”

    How can a court distinguish that from what Doctor Shipman did?

    I can think of a dozen reasons why and would happily take my chances in court. And even if I was convicted I’d sleep soundly in my cell.

  31. @Alex: ’ If it was here in the UK, how long before someone is euthanised to save the NHS?’

    Been there, done that. Did we all forget the Liverpool Care Pathway?

  32. “How can a court distinguish that from what Doctor Shipman did?”

    More importantly, how can lots of other people? The fact is that euthanasia already happens, but it is carefully concealed to avoid retribution. One of the reasons that Shipman got away with murder for so long was that euthanasia is illegal, so many people may have had a suspicion that one death or other was odd, but refrained from doing anything about it in the mistaken belief that he might be providing much desired relief to a desperate person. Euthanasia should be out in the open where we have sufficient checks to ensure that the person dying really does want it (and, even, that it is a persistent desire and not just a temporary reaction that will pass).

  33. How does it go?
    You must not kill
    Yet need not strive
    Officiously
    To keep alive

    I know that if one of my kids had stage 3 Mong or whatever, but was perfectly happy bouncing about and playing with the dog, that I would not welcome the attention of some murderous quack telling me they were better off dead! Should said quack or trio of quacks decide to go ahead and slot the kiddy, I would wipe them out in as painful and prolonged a manner as I could devise, and my imagination used to terrify my old sergeant! Hopefully such action would concentrate the mind of the next murder-quack up to bat.

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