Pediatricians: Allow euthanasia for kids under 12

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The Dutch Association of Pediatrics think that children under 12 years should also have the option to ask for euthanasia, provided that their suffering is unbearable and hopeless.

According to the Volkskrant, the Association came to this position after intense discussion. Minister Edith Schippers of Public Health previously told the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament that she is open to having a debate with the pediatricians on the matter.

The Association think that the current age limit of 12 years is a problem, because it does not necessarily correspond with the development of a child. In practice doctors find that even younger children can well understand the consequences of their decisions. The Association is therefore proposing a "competency test", regardless of age. If a child prove to be unable to make such a decision, the decision should be made after deliberation by parents and doctor. This currently only happens in children aged 0 to 1 year.

"It's about extreme exceptional situations of children who will die soon, and where you'd like to offer parents the opportunity to have their child die in a dignified way. As a pediatrician I can not explain that everybody has that right, except for the age group between 1 and 12 years.", Professor Eduard Verhagen said to the Volkskrant last year. He is one of two pediatricians who previously questioned this "gap" in Dutch law.

Since February 2014, minors have been able to ask fro euthanasia in Belgium, provided that they are competent to make the decision and both parents agree.

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