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Netherlands Hospital Euthanizes Babies

by C1ay / November 30, 2004 6:13 AM PST

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (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....

Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain damage from bleeding and convulsions; and diseases where a child could only survive on life support for the rest of its life, such as severe cases of spina bifida and epidermosis bullosa, a rare blistering illness...

More....

OK critics, is this mercy or murder? Who thinks such babies should be kept alive regardless of their pain or quality of life? BTW, I commend the Dutch.

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These are hard cases ...
by Bill Osler / November 30, 2004 6:35 AM PST

A supreme court justice observed some years ago that hard cases make for bad law.

I cannot support euthanasia in any form. I can support withdrawal of life support in limited cases, but even there one must be careful about what is driving the decision. Active euthanasia, though, is an entirely different situation.

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i agree thats a good thing
by Mark5019 / November 30, 2004 6:38 AM PST

whish we would do the same.

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They are on a slippery slope, and sliding faster as time
by Kiddpeat / November 30, 2004 7:18 AM PST

goes by. It started with 'assisted' suicide, and now this. Murder is murder no matter what the motive. How soon will it be before ANY handicap is considered grounds for death? How long before they decide what an acceptable life span is?

The amazing thing is that the Dutch have convinced themselves that they are quite conservative, and that these practices are quite reasonable. Sad

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(NT) (NT) You mean killing is killing.
by Dan McC / December 1, 2004 12:20 AM PST
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This is murder ...
by Evie / December 1, 2004 12:27 AM PST

... the premeditated killing of an innocent life. This time you can't even argue if it is a life or not as the child is born.

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(NT) (NT) All killing is not murder, even if premeditated.
by Dan McC / December 1, 2004 12:53 AM PST
In reply to: This is murder ...
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Murder is the unjustified pre-meditated ...
by Evie / December 1, 2004 1:00 AM PST

... killing of an innocent life. You can try to argue a justification, but the only ones I can come up with don't hold water. Care to take a stab at the justification?

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Re: Murder is the unjustified pre-meditated ...
by C1ay / December 1, 2004 1:09 AM PST

Is there not any conditions where you would give the same mercy to one of these infants that a family pet could find for it's never-ending pain at the humane society? Just what is humane for these babies?

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I said in another post ...
by Evie / December 1, 2004 1:12 AM PST

... the best we can do is alleviate any pain they might be in and let nature take its course. The devil is in the details with euthanasia as to where the line of "mercy" is drawn. Given the track record in the Netherlands with euthanasia of the elderly, this is a most troubling development.

Evie Happy

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Re: Murder is the unjustified pre-meditated ...
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / December 1, 2004 1:46 AM PST

Hi, Evie.

I assume you mean "innocent human life," and I'd contest applying the word "human" to an infant that's blind, ********, and forever incapable of locomotion. These are not easy issues, but we have to deal with actual situations, not worry about "slippery slopes."

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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You are truly frightening Dave
by Evie / December 1, 2004 1:54 AM PST

Now a blind, ******** infant incapable of locomotion is not human???????????

How about just blind and ********? How ******** does a baby have to be for you to consider it non-human? Geez, for all your protestations over the use of the word subhuman, you sure are pretty quick to invoke that definition used to justify genocide and eugenics.

So had Christopher Reeve also lost his sight and sufferec some mental impairment he was no longer human? Shudder!

Evie Happy

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Re: You are truly frightening Dave
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / December 1, 2004 2:16 AM PST

Hi, Evie.

What you don't seem to realize is that nature has a fail-safe by which most fetuses incapable of life are spontaneously aborted during pregnancy. That's a tragedy for the family -- but not nearly so tragic as cases like these, where the fetus is just viable enough to escape the natural selection process. Until the middle of the last century, there was still not a problem, because without tremendous amounts of logistical support (at a level simply unavailable at the time) they died spontaneously in short order, even if the society was not one of the majority that did as the Dutch are doing, though by much less humane methods. Now we have the capability of keeping such "people" alive -- but SHOULD WE? Is a crippled body virtually incapable of thought or interacting with its environment "human?" I submit it is not -- because it is incapable of all that makes us human.

As for Christopher Reeve, he COULD think and move, and had hope. He himself says that he was almost at the point of suicide, until he realized what he could still accomplish. These babies have no such hope -- they can never develop to even an approximation of normal, physically or intellectually, yet tremendous amounts of societal resources (whether paid privately or collectively) are required to keep them "alive." Meanwhile, in this country (unlike Holland) many more productive, aware, truly human members of society are facing morbidity and mortality because of the lack of health care resources that could be provided by the money needed to keep just one such "child" alive. Don't you see a fundamental flaw in this "ethic?" Why does everyone understand the concept of "opportunity cost" when it comes to economics, but not when it comes to allocation of health care resources?

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Re: You are truly frightening Dave
by Evie / December 1, 2004 2:35 AM PST

Dave, you know damned well that I understand the reasons for spontaneous abortions, so kindly knock off the patronizing sanctimony here.

Interesting you should bring up the opportunity cost factor because it is exactly the best argument against euthanasia -- especially in countries with socialized medicine. When the cost to keep a child alive is factored in, and resources become tight, the tendancy will be to move that line as to what lives are worthy of saving. In Holland, the rates of euthanasia of the elderly are alarmingly high. You don't suppose the high cost burden of long-term care factors into that do you?

Incidentally, if you read my other posts you would realize that I am by no means advocating keeping them alive at all costs either. If nothing can be done to save the life, then the humane thing to do is alleviate suffering as much as possible as nature takes its course.

I'm well aware of the tragedy this brings on a family as a friend of ours went through this horror. However I didn't realize that we should use alleviating stress on a family as a justification for hastening the death. I mean if that is your yardstick, why not kill off all of the terminally ill instead of keeping them alive for another year of a "subhuman" existance? All of your arguments to support euthanizing these babies would apply here as well.

Evie Happy

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Re: You are truly frightening Dave
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / December 1, 2004 2:40 AM PST

Hi, Evie.

The question is, when there's zero prognosis (and I'm speaking only of neonates here), why"wait for nature to take its course? What's the possible justification for the extra suffering that's entailed, when the result is inevitable and there's no "making one's peace" involved?
As for being patronizing, I didn't mean to be -- these threads are read by many people, and most don't have the bioscience background that you do. My explanation was intended for all those who read the message, not specifically for you.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Most don't know the bioscience that I do ...
by Evie / December 1, 2004 3:05 AM PST

... true, but you addressed me specifically with your comment: "What you don't seem to realize..."

You have been uncharacteristically consistent throughout the abortion debate in defining life to begin at birth. Now you wish to qualify that. Let's say the baby isn't diagnosed with a fatal disorder until age one. Why not euthanize it then? Or how about when the child has managed to survive to age five and is determined to have the intellect of a mouse. Why not euthanize it then? By your economic argument, there is no more value to the life of an adult that becomes incapacitated in the same manner with the same prospects for future improvement than the life of the newborn -- except that in most cases medical advances tend to be more successful in the young actually giving them a better chance of a future you would find meaningful at some point.

Evie Happy

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The best part is that Dave and his ilk want to decide
by Kiddpeat / December 1, 2004 10:17 AM PST

for others whether THEIR life is meaningful. I'll bet the criteria would change if it was Dave's life hanging in the balance. This is one of the real dangers in socialized medicine. The bureaucrats decide what's worth treating and what's not. Who should live and who should die. In the meantime, Dave runs around screaming that the sky is falling. Thank God that people like George Bush are in charge.

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That is in no way what's been argued.
by Dan McC / December 2, 2004 12:52 AM PST

Did you really read that somewhere or are you misinterpreting the statements intentionally?

Dan

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I guess I'm lucky,Dave...
by J. Vega / December 1, 2004 1:57 PM PST

I usually don't get into such discussions, but I noticed your words "Is a crippled body virtually incapable of thought or interacting with its environment "human?" I submit it is not -- because it is incapable of all that makes us human."
I guess I'm lucky you weren't my doctor when I was in a coma. Learned professor Konkel, I think that your "rules" might need some more thought.

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Re: I guess I'm lucky,Dave...
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / December 1, 2004 10:55 PM PST

Hi, J.

If you read my comments in full, you'll find I'm not speaking of those who clearly have been fully human and have lost capacity due to illness or injury. But even then, many opt out -- and our government (e.g. in Oregon) is trying to deny them the ultimate control over their own body. The major non-religious criticism of suicide is that it's often a permanent soultion to a temporary problem. But what happens when the problem is not temporary? I'm certainly not advocating societal decision-making -- but OTOH, society should not block personal decisions in such cases, either.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Most people that oppose assisted suicide ...
by Evie / December 1, 2004 11:31 PM PST

... oppose the assistance by a doctor who's first obligation is to do no harm. The moral obligation is to alleviate the pain and suffering of all afflicted. Killing them off, even at their directive (and when doctors are considering competing cost interests, how can we be sure they won't, even subconciously, counsel patients to hasten their death?), poses far more problems. I would be in favor of adults having access to the means to do the deed themselves if that is their wish.

Evie Happy

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Re: Most people that oppose assisted suicide ...
by Steven Haninger / December 1, 2004 11:52 PM PST

Partial birth abortion is often the ending of a healthy life (as a matter of convenience) using a method that causes pain and suffering in the process. To cause this pain is acceptable to some. But, for these suffering babies, to allow pain is not acceptable and they should be put to death to end it. Can you say hypocracy?

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Re: Most people that oppose assisted suicide ...
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / December 2, 2004 12:05 PM PST

Hi, Evie.

The problem, of course, is that for some at least doing it themselves is no longer within their physical capacity. These are very tough moral choices -- but as always the black and white approach all too often fails in a world that's mainly gray.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Re: Most people that oppose assisted suicide ...
by MarciaB / December 2, 2004 12:13 PM PST
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Wow! Don't worry about slippery slopes! Let's redefine
by Kiddpeat / December 1, 2004 10:03 AM PST

what human life is! Sounds like something straight out of the 1930s. I thought you deplored that mentality. I guess you only use the terms as rhetorical ploys?

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Re: Wow! Don't worry about slippery slopes! Let's redefine

Hi, KP.

I'm not "redefining" adults -- I'm asking about the limited number of babies that weren't quite malformed enough to be spontaneously aborted, but have no hope of anything even approximating a human existence. I dare say you've probably never seen a partially ancephalic newborn that's got a few weeks of very expensive, pain-filled "existence" ahead of it with no possibility of long-term survival. Luckily I've never seen one "alive," but I have seen specimens preserved in formaldehyde, and it's a thoroughly sickening experience.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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(NT) (NT) How does an ancephalic baby process pain?
by Evie / December 2, 2004 8:13 PM PST
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Re: How does an ancephalic baby process pain?
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / December 3, 2004 2:29 AM PST

Hi, Evie.

I didn't say ancephalic, I said "partially ancephalic." A fully ancephalic baby can't survive. But pain is one of the primordial functions in the part of the brain that's required to allow survival, so what you have is a "human" with zero higher intellect (or prognosis), but that processes pain just fine -- unfortunately.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Oh ...
by Evie / December 3, 2004 8:14 AM PST

... so at what point of gestation do such neural pathways mature?

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Mercy? Compassion?
by Dan McC / December 1, 2004 1:52 AM PST

These words may not mean much to some people but others hold the ideas in high regard.

Dan

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Those words mean plenty ...
by Evie / December 1, 2004 1:59 AM PST
In reply to: Mercy? Compassion?

... but then why not kill off all the people in the terminal throes of AIDS for example? The mercy and compassion comes in by making every effort to alleviate a painful condition, and where that is not possible to alleviate the pain and suffering.

The euthanasia rates of the elderly in Holland are alarmingly high. There is no reason to expect any different for this practice as it takes hold

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