Children who are suffering serious pain and have no prospect of improvement should be allowed to request euthanasia, whatever their age, according to the Dutch association for child medicine.
The current age limit for a euthanasia request is 12, but this should be replaced by an individual assessment of whether the child is mentally competent to take such a decision, the association says in Friday’s Volkskrant.
The association was asked to draw up its standpoint on child euthanasia by health minister Edith Schippers a year ago.
The current 12-year age limit is a problem, doctors say, because younger children are also capable of understanding the consequences of their actions.
‘The system is regulated for new-borns and for children from the age of 12 but not in between,’ professor of child medicine Eduard Verhagen told the Volkskrant last year. ‘We are talking about extremely exceptional circumstances in which a child is dying and in which we want to offer parents the opportunity to give their child a dignified death.’
The Volkskrant says that between 2002 and 2013 there were just five cases of child euthanasia. One child was 12, the others 16 and 17.
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