November 30, 2004

UNNATURAL CAUSES (via The Other Brother)

Netherlands Hospital Euthanizes Babies (TOBY STERLING, 11/30/04, AP)

A hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.

The announcement by the Groningen Academic Hospital came amid a growing discussion in Holland on whether to legalize euthanasia on people incapable of deciding for themselves whether they want to end their lives - a prospect viewed with horror by euthanasia opponents and as a natural evolution by advocates.

That should probably read "applied" rather than "natural."

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 30, 2004 3:45 PM

Stories like this certainly shed light on Europe's immigration problems. Who would want to assimilate into such a culture?

Posted by: brian at November 30, 2004 4:03 PM

OTOH, if seriously ill immigrants are afraid to go to the euthanasia center - er, hospital - then they'll still be running the risk of getting assimilated into a european cemetary - at least till the Soylent Corporation gets some factories up and running there.

Posted by: M. Murcek at November 30, 2004 4:14 PM

Unfortunately, there are far too many people even in this country who look at this and think it's a good thing.

Posted by: Mike Morley at November 30, 2004 4:44 PM

It aint right.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 30, 2004 8:30 PM

What was Scrooge's line? Didn't he refer to the poor & the orphans as "surplus population"? Of course proponants would never say this, but that's what they mean.


Posted by: Dave W. at November 30, 2004 10:29 PM

I somehow doubt this is controversial in the "pragmatic" Netherlands. The majority of death certificates will soon read: "Died in his/her sleep."

But, it is a pretty good example of the difference between libertarians and conservatives.

Posted by: Randall Voth at December 1, 2004 2:10 AM

Let me see if I understand everyone here correctly.

A terminally-ill infant is born and rather than see it put peacefully and painlessly out of its misery, you would prefer to see it maintained alive, in pain, in suffering, at public expense where there is no hope of recovery. And my contrary position is the 'heartless' one?

Posted by: Bart at December 1, 2004 3:52 AM


Actually, I think reasonable people can differ in the senario you describe. (in other words I am not offended by your position).

However the article, also let's slip that "severely" mentally retarded infants may be snuffed out. I am suspicious that "severely" may actually mean "inconvenient". I tend to be cynical.

Posted by: h-man at December 1, 2004 4:25 AM

No, your contrary position is not "heartless".

I've stood over my dying daughter's hospital bed and agonized, w/my wife, over what and how much to let the doctors do to save/prolong her life. I did not want her to live in pain and suffering. That would have been selfish and heartless. What would also have been heartless, would have been a doctor saying, "she's going to die, there's no hope, let me put her to sleep for you." There is a right way and a wrong way to let nature take its course. What do we call the active ending of a life? We call it a killing.

Posted by: David at December 1, 2004 4:40 AM


I vote for heartless. Spare us the crocodile tears. I don't think your position is restricted to such dramatic, extreme cases on the edge and I don't think you worry much about suffering. I seem to recall you arguing that many of them should be killed whether they are suffering or not. Something about scarce resources.

Posted by: Peter B at December 1, 2004 8:40 AM

Bart's position is heartless, but so is the polar opposite position (keep them alive as long as possible no matter what).

If you place greater emphasis on enforcing your Absolute Rules rather than acting according to the best judgement in each individual case, you're always going to end up making heartless decisions at one end of the spectrum or the other.

So you've got to try and get a consensus on the guidelines for doctors, and then vet and monitor your doctors very carefully.

None of which is easy. But then if this was an easy matter we wouldn't be talking about it.

Posted by: Brit at December 1, 2004 9:57 AM

Yes, the heart is the worst guide to decision making.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 10:04 AM

Read Harry Turtledove's In the Presence of Mine Enemies sometime.

When you do, keep an eye out for the pediatrician and references to the "Reich Mercy Center".

Posted by: Ken at December 1, 2004 12:50 PM

Also, check Hugh Hewitt's blog. He's hitting the Groningen Protocols very heavily.

And the rest of the Media? "doubleplusungood refs unevents. doubleplusungood refs unpersons. memhole."

Posted by: Ken at December 1, 2004 3:07 PM

Bart: Look, if you want to argue that it is irrational, uneconomic, or whatever, to fight to keep some of these babies alive, go ahead, because you're right (though perhaps one should read about Hunter Kelly at before one believes that medical science can really determine what constitutes a "hopeless" case). But don't try to argue that you're doing a favor to a baby by killing it. It's grotesque.

Posted by: brian at December 1, 2004 5:40 PM


It is though the classic argument of the eugenicist.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 6:00 PM

For those of you unfamiliar with Bart, let me tell you that he has always shown himself to be a a very cruel person. Don't be surprised that he would support killing babies.

Posted by: Vince at December 1, 2004 6:00 PM


Though, oddly enough, he works himself into high dudgeon about Nazis and Islamicists and others who think he's unfit to live.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 6:04 PM


My heart goes out to you and your wife.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 1, 2004 7:08 PM

It is too easy to give up on life if your highest value is avoiding pain and suffering. It is a good thing to want to ease the suffering of others, but not at the cost of a life. There are ways for people to make even an extremely limited and painful life worthwhile, and that is what the family of someone in this kind of situation should strive for. I know that it is easy to say that, and harder to do, but it is something that we all must prepare to address. The courage to live such a life, even if it is a short life, will inspire many others to have courage in the face of hardship. A life shouldn't be measured merely by what value it brings to the person living it, but by what meaning it can have for others as well. There are no wasted lives. Victor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning" is an excellent book to read in this regard. Suffering is bearable if it has meaning.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 2, 2004 4:38 AM


While not disputing anything else in your post, suffering has no meaning to infants.

Until one can discern the difference between one's self and the rest of the Universe, no sacrifice is possible.

That's why William Wallace being tortured in the name of freedom might be considered noble, but if Wallace had had a two year old son that was tortured, it would have simply been an atrocity.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at December 2, 2004 6:53 AM

Anybody catch the clip on "Ward 57" on NBC? Good thing that hospital isn't run by the Dutch.

Posted by: Peter B at December 2, 2004 6:53 AM



Posted by: Peter B at December 2, 2004 7:12 AM

Children are pure of spirit, they haven't developed to the point of asking themselves if their life is worthwhile, or if they are worthy of the resources being expended on their behalf, they will struggle to live through the most painful and hopeless of circumstances. They aren't quitters, and we shouldn't quit on their behalf. It's not about sacrifice - William Wallace didn't sacrifice himself, he fought for his own freedom against all odds, and that is what sick children do.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 2, 2004 2:04 PM


Ever see a kid with Trisomy-13?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 2, 2004 8:03 PM

Couldn't you just crush their ugly little skulls?

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 8:07 PM

Jeff, no I haven't. Why should my revulsion at a deformity go into a decision to terminate a life?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 2, 2004 9:31 PM


Yes I have. Trisomy-13 is a horrific defect and the baby will die. Should the baby be aborted before birth or euthanized soon after birth? NO, it's a human life! The child is valuable and precious! Should heroic and extraordinary things be done to save and prolong the child's life? NO, this severe defect is incompatable w/human life as you and I know it. If i may ask, why did you single out Trisomy-13?


What part of your brain (or other point of exit) did your previous few comments come from? You obviously have no clue about quality of life and self-awareness issues where infants are concerned. If you ever have to face these issues first hand please quickly reassess your position and opinions. You will not be able to do what is in the best interests of the child if you don't.

Posted by: Dave W. at December 3, 2004 10:36 AM

Dave W, please explain.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 3, 2004 3:02 PM