Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Groningen Protocol

It sounds like the title of a Robert Ludlum spy thriller. Fedora'd characters lurking in shadowed corners, blind drops and microdots, a retired Stazi officer making an unlikely alliance with an embittered, embattled CIA agent racing against time to save the world - and his girl. A terrific read, a lovely bit of disposable fiction. Would that it were. The Groningen Protocol is all too real. It is the process by which a committee of doctors at the Groningen Academic Hospital in The Netherlands decides to kill sick babies. Not turn off the life-support machines. Not stop treatment. Not decide not to use heroic measures, and provide palliative care until nature takes its course. Kill, as in inject with lethal drugs. The same as you'd do with a cat or dog. Put down. Euthanize. Put out of their misery. Kill. And unlike abortion, this is not the parent making the decision to kill the child. A panel of doctors decides. The parents wishes may be considered, but the decision is made by "medical professionals." The same ones, presumably, that once took an oath to "first, do no harm" and to "administer no deadly medicine." Hugh Hewitt wonders why much of the blogosphere has been silent on this issue to date. Perhaps, like me, other bloggers have simply been too shocked to have much to say. Those who have spoken have done so very elequently, and as a result, I don't have much to add. Perhaps I will later. Most likely. Pastor and theologian Dr. Mark D. Roberts has assembled a useful and insightful set of resources. UPDATE: A tie-in I have yet to see is the connection between the Groningen Protocol and Susan Smith. You remember her, right? She's the young mother - excuse me, that should be "young woman" - who murdered - excuse me, that should be "exercised her reproductive rights" her young children - excuse me, that should be, "products-of-conception" - by strapping them into their car seats and pushing the car into a pond - excuse me, that should be, "creatively utilizing the methods available to her". The reason she did that, she said at her trial, was that the young boys had become an inconvient drag on her social calendar. IOW, they adversely impacted her quality of life and mental health. I still don't understand why "reproductive rights" advocates are not agitating for her release. I'm certain that supporters and apologists for the Groningen Protocol will come to her aid. She's quite a heroine to the cause of individual freedom, wouldn't you say? Certainly not the cold-blooded child murderer she's been portrayed as. /swiftian sarcastic irony, for the clueless


Grumpy Old Man said...

There may be difficult ethical questions surrounding lives deeply compromised by illness or deformity.

Whatever one concludes about these questions, it seems wrong to me to allow a committee to approve actively taking measures to kill a human being, even a deeply compromised one, as we would do with a terminally ill animal.

It also seems to me that a society that cannot see this, indeed, feel it viscerally, is very far gone indeed.

Bill said...

Upon reading Hugh Hewitt's breaking of the news story about euthenasia in the Netherlands I posted reference to it and my commments in an Email support group I am a part of (there are about 25 active participants). Interesting to me was there were only 2 or 3 replies.

Has the whole abortion industry/history as well as the general decline of moral values or interest in them deadened us so completly as to silence us? As to cover our pain? As to put the horses blinders on us?

God help humanity.

jasper emmering said...

Ehh, not.

The decision is not made by a panel of doctors. The parents decide.

The panel of doctors (actually, the entire medical team including nurses and physiotherapists and the like) only decide if the medical condition of the child is grave enough to warrant euthanasia.

Then, a second, independent panel reviews the case. But the ultimate decision rests with the parents.

Hugh Hewitt is lying about this. Or maybe he just has a slight problem with accurate reading or Googling for facts.

Corrie said...

The article Hugh quoted said that the panel makes the final decision, not the parents. If you have evidence to the contrary, feel free to link it. He quoted and cited the article. If the reporter was incorrect, that doesn't make Hewitt a liar.

But that is beside the point, really. The issue is treating human beings like cats or dogs; killing them when WE decide that their life "isn't worth living."

Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?

P-BS-Watcher said...

The dispute between Mr. Emmering and Mr. Hewitt deserves to be resolved. See my blog post at