Netherlands to allow for physician-assisted death of ‘incurably ill’ children

Dutch officials have announced plans to allow doctors to end the lives of terminally ill kids under the age of 13, according to multiple reports. 

The Netherlands currently permits doctors to facilitate the deaths of children who are over 12 years old and and children under one year old.

Dutch health minister Hugo de Jonge proposed expanding the country’s law to include children between the ages of one and 12 who are dying in a Tuesday letter to parliament, The New York Times reported. 

“In a small number of cases, palliative care isn’t sufficient,” de Jonge wrote. “Because of that, some children suffer unnecessarily without any hope of improvement.”

The health official estimated the proposal could impact between five and 10 children each year. 

Physicians in the country had expressed concerns that they could be held criminally liable if they helped end the lives of terminally ill children between the ages of one and 12, the Times noted.

A majority of lawmakers in the country are expected to agree with the proposal, according to the outlet. However, lawmakers are not expected to vote on the regulation, which will be included in existing law. 

The move is estimated to take a few months to implement, a spokesperson for de Jonge confirmed to the Times.

Physician-assisted suicide is legal in nine U.S. states and Washington, D.C., according to CNN.

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