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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Groningen Protocols: Murdering Children by Committee

I'm keeping this the top post for some time. There is no more important story than this from the Netherlands:

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.

The announcement by the Groningen Academic Hospital came amid a growing discussion in Holland on whether to legalize euthanasia on people incapable of deciding for themselves whether they want to end their lives - a prospect viewed with horror by euthanasia opponents and as a natural evolution by advocates.

In August, the main Dutch doctors' association KNMG urged the Health Ministry to create an independent board to review euthanasia cases for terminally ill people "with no free will," including children, the severely mentally retarded and people left in an irreversible coma after an accident.

The story ends with this:

"Measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours or days or weeks are stopped. This happens routinely, namely, every day," said Lance Stell, professor of medical ethics at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., and staff ethicist at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. "Everybody knows that it happens, but there's a lot of hypocrisy. Instead, people talk about things they're not going to do."

More than half of all deaths occur under medical supervision, so it's really about management and method of death, Stell said.

The "management and method of death" occurring under "medical supervision" and all under the direction of an independent committee. Nice and sanitary. As the story says, the slippery slope becomes a vertical cliff. This is about more than euthanasia, as bad as this sounds. It's about who chooses life and death, parents or a committee? Who decides who has free will, and who has lost that will? And who would you want on your committee, should you need it? A frightening, frightening story.

Update: 06:30 PM 11/30/04
Hugh Hewitt has spent most of his 3 hour radio show on this story, and posted to the story as well.
He draws significant parallels to the Wansee Conference. The comparison is relevant, and incredibly scary:

The Wannsee Conference, as it became known to history, did not mark the beginning of the "Final Solution." The mobile killing squads were already slaughtering Jews in the occupied Soviet Union. Rather, the Wannsee Conference was the place where the "final solution" was formally revealed to non-Nazi leaders who would help arrange for Jews to be transported from all over German-occupied Europe to SS-operated "extermination" camps in Poland. Not one of the men present at Wannsee objected to the announced policy. Never before had a modern state committed itself to the murder of an entire people.
The release today of this story on the Groningen Protocols may rank with the Wannsee Conference as the date the Culture of Death openly declared war on the Culture of Life.

Update: 09:30 PM 12/1/04
The story is beginning to percolate through the news cycle. Here's a google search of news stories as of 9:30 tonight. Sounds like Dennis Miller will spend some time on the story tomorrow night. Some bloggers are gettting into the story. Hugh Hewitt has again devoted alot of time to this story today. Mark D. Roberts has an extensive collection of links on this story. One is by a Vatican bio ethicist, who asks some pointed questions:

Some scholars have noted the existence of a great contradiction in contemporary society, a sort of schiz-ophrenic split: on the one hand, the proclamation of "human rights" and the search for the definition of "crimes against humanity", and on the other, the inability to define who the human person is, and consequently, what action should be deemed human or inhuman (cf. J.C. Guillebaud, Le principe d'humanité, Chap. I).

What it seems we are losing in our culture is the "principle of humanity".

Is it human to treat pain and to provide hospices for the sick afflicted with tumours or is it more humane to make available to those afflicted by incurable illnesses lethal drugs, whether they ask for them personally or their doctors presume that they would seek them if they could?

Who has the authority to decide whether a concept is "humane or inhumane", when human nature, the ontology of the person and an adequate concept of human dignity have been denied?

Does the person who is dying retain his or her human dignity so that no one can impose a despotism of life and death on one suffering and about to die?

This is the point: rediscovering human dignity, the dignity of every person who has value as such, a value that transcends earthly reality and is the source and purpose of social life, a good on which the universe converges (St Thomas Aquinas describes the person "quod est perfectissimum in rerum natura"), a good that cannot be exploited for any other interest by anyone (as the best of the secular moral traditions recalls, starting with Kant)

What does it mean to be human? Who has the right to end that human life? And who decides the answers to those questions? These are fundamental questions facing Western Civilization in the 21st century. How we answer the questions will determine much about how history will see this time.


  1. Honestly, it sounds pretty reasonable to me. In a world generally governed by regious extremists (christian and muslim), rational thought should be more than welcome. We always speak of generalities, and meanwhile, there's one person who has to suffer needlessly so that 'everything's fair'.

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  4. Thanks for the comment, Grampa Caligula. The issues of dignity and human value should not be decided by committee. The Nazis were very rational folks for the most part, and "rationally" and scientifically killed millions.