MONTREAL, Nov. 27, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Today the Belgium Senate is expected to extend euthanasia to include children with the following conditions with parental consent: intolerable physical suffering without an age limit and if the death is likely intervene in a short time. In the Netherlands, the Groningen protocol has been followed since 2005 (three years after the adoption of the law) and authorizes the euthanization of children. Quebec's Bill 52 on euthanasia proposes legislation that resembles that of the Netherlands and Belgium adopted in 2002.
Dr. Richard Haber, pediatrician and associate professor at the Montreal Children's Hospital, in his published article "Paediatric euthanasia : Let's not go Dutch" (October 2010) describes three groups of children who may be candidates for euthanasia according to the Groningen protocol in the Netherlands practiced since 2005 and resembling the Belgian law:
- Infants with ''no chance of survival'', for example, hypoplastic heart or lung with or without underdeveloped kidney;
- Infants with a "poor prognosis"; and,
- Infants with a "hopeless prognosis" which, according to their parents and doctors, live with unbearable pain.
According to Dr. Haber, the definition of "poor quality of life" is very subjective. It is clear that for people with disabilities that the interpretation of ''poor quality of life'' is quite different from the perspective of those who have no significant disability.
Infants with spina bifida are often euthanized because of "poor prognosis, a poor quality of life and/or unbearable pain." According to Dr. Haber, spina bifida may be corrected by surgery and this disability may respond to treatment. In his practice, he treated a child, now of school age, whose spina bifida had been corrected and despite residual disabilities, leads a happy life and attends regular school. Dr. Haber has followed several children and adolescents with trisomy 21 who, despite their handicaps, have brought much joy to their families and friends. Some of them enjoy an exceptional quality of life. According to Dr. Haber, if Bill 52 is made law in Quebec, it will open the door to euthanasia of these children in a few years.
What important lessons can the Nazi euthanasia program of children during the 1930s teach health care decision makers and practicing physicians in the 21st century? In the article published in the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health in October 2011 "From small beginnings: The euthanasia of children with disabilities in Nazi Germany", Dr. Lee Hudson estimates between 5000 and 8000 children with physical and intellectual disabilities were killed in Nazi Germany under the euthanasia program. The program involved medical staff, including pediatricians.
At Nuremberg, the American psychiatrist Dr. Leo Alexander gave his medical expertise which was published in the July 14, 1949 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. He recalled that in Nazi Germany, crimes and atrocities began "from small beginnings". Questioning the value of the life of certain individuals provided the framework for doctors to kill severely disabled children. Eventually, the program expanded to include older children with disabilities, sick adults, socially unproductive citizens, and, finally, all the perceived opponents of the regime.
According to Dr. Paul Saba, family physician and President of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice ''the Quebec bill on euthanasia has very loose criteria which is even looser than the laws adopted in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2002. Quebec will become an open bar to euthanasia as is happening in these countries. The definition of ''end of life" is not clear. Is it 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 6 years, or 20 years? And who can predict accurately the duration of one's life and the time of death? And who can determine objectively the physical and mental suffering not related to the disease itself?
Quebecers do not want doctors who kill patients but rather doctors who provide quality care from birth to old age. Bill 52 will begin the process of causing premature deaths of children and adults who should not die.
Dr Paul Saba shares a personal story in the Video: Case Against Euthanasia for Children - Dr Paul Saba - A Personal Story
SOURCE: Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice
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