Catholic Doctors Criticize Nonconsensual Euthanasia of Children in Holland

Reaction of World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations

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ROME, SEPT. 3, 2004 ( Catholic doctors warned that the new practice in Holland to euthanize children is another step towards a society in which life is not respected.

The World Federation of the Catholic Medical Associations published a statement in response to the decision to allow Groningen University Hospital to euthanize children under 12 when their suffering is intolerable, or if they have an incurable illness.

The document states that this initiative «is another violent laceration of the very fundamentals of our social coexistence.»

«Officially aimed at putting an end to ‘unbearable suffering,’ in fact it permits the killing of human beings without their consent,» the statement continues, signed by Dr. Gian Luigi Gigli, president of the federation.

«This happens in a society, as the Dutch one, in which euthanasia on adults has been legally performed even on depressed persons and where, as documented by official studies, there is already an illegal but tolerated euthanasia performed by physicians» on patients who have not given their consent, the statement adds.

The «decision proposes a death solution in situations which could be addressed by modern palliative care,» the Catholic doctors stress.

Moreover, «the decision raises the suspicion of a financial interest of the public authorities, since it decreases the ‘burden’ of prolonged and expensive care in clinical conditions for which any extension of life duration is considered meaningless,» the statement continues.

Worse yet, «it opens the door on a national scale to the ‘mercy killing’ of other mentally incompetent persons, to be eliminated without their consent for reasons based on an external appreciation of their quality of life,» said the federation.

This move is also in line with the Aug. 26 decision of the Kentucky Supreme Court, which granted legal authority to the state to end the life of one of its citizens, the statement adds.

«The case involved a mildly retarded black male, Matthew Woods, who was placed on a ventilator after suffering cardiac arrest at the age of 54. The state requested permission to remove his life support, contrary to the wishes of Woods’ guardian ad litem,» the statement explains.

The statement appeals to «medical doctors still committed to the Hippocratic Oath, to feel the moral imperative to contrast the slippery slope that, step by step, is permitting the public authorities to take decisions on which lives are worthy to be lived.»

«The next steps will be the mental capacity bill under scrutiny by the British Parliament, and the attempt by local authorities to change the ethical code of Belgian doctors,» the statement stresses.

«The risks of such an attitude, in terms of violence and discrimination, should be evident for physicians and call them to resist and fight,» the statement concludes.

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