- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2013

Two Dutch countries that have pioneered legalized euthanasia are trying to take it one step further — mercy killings for ill children.

Belgium adopted euthanasia in 2002, one year after the Netherlands, but now the Belgians are trying to allow patients diagnosed with diseases that eventually lead to dementia to cut their lives short — even if they appear in perfectly stable condition, The Telegraph reported.

The Belgian parliament is also weighing a measure that would allow minors under 18 — who can’t drive, marry, vote or drink alcohol in the country — to consent to assisted suicide.

In the Netherlands, a national physicians’ group, the Royal Dutch Medical Association, has issued guidelines that say parents’ distress can justify the euthanasia of sick newborns, the National Post reported.

In a recent policy document, the Association states that a lethal injection might be appropriate if “the period of gasping and dying persists and the inevitable death is prolonged, in spite of good preparation, and it causes severe suffering for the parents,” The Telegraph reported.

“When this process goes on for 18 to 20 to 24 hours … parents sometimes come up to the medical team and say, ‘This is too much; the suffering and the dying process is irreversible. This takes too much of our good memory of our child. Could you please hasten death?’ ” Dr. Eduard Verhagen, one of the report’s authors, told the National Post on Wednesday.

SEE ALSO: Little change in Dutch euthanasia post-legality

“The report says if you hasten death under such circumstances … then the medical profession considers that an acceptable practice.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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