Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Groningen Protocol

Here is an excerpt from an article posted on

The Groningen University Hospital gives you the facts behind The Groningen Protocol:
The Groningen Protocol has five criteria: the suffering must be so severe that the newborn has no prospects of a future; there is no possibility of a cure or alleviation with medication or surgery; the parents must always give their consent; a second opinion must be provided by an independent doctor who has not been involved with the child’s treatment; and the deliberate ending of life must be meticulously carried out with the emphasis on aftercare.

I think L-rs said it best in his excellent commentary on this infamous Groningen Protocol:
We are not talking about children that have anything to teach us, other than new depths of human pain and misery. Who in their right mind would let their child suffer unbearably to satisfy such irrational perverse nobility?
In The Netherlands, the majority would not.

Who in their right mind would let their child suffer unbearably? God, for one.

Isaiah 53:4-5 says of Christ, "Surely, he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted."

My parents, for two. In my case, every dire prediction that the doctors made about my life ended up being not true - however, this fact was not observed until I became of age and the behavior could be observed. If I had been terminated as an infant, the doctors never would have realized that I indeed was not blind, brain damaged, mentally retarded, and unable to speak as they said I was. Whether I was healed by God or misdiagnosed, I do not know. What I do know is that I love life - scars and all - and am glad that some doctor "practicing" medicine didn't play God and decide to end my life based upon the way things "looked" when I was a week old.

Note the human will that underlies all five of the stipulations of the Groningen protocol.

1. The newborn has no prospects of a future.
How can that be accurately determined? What about misdiagnosis? What about severe physical deformities with no brain damage? How do you draw a distinct boundary line around a prospective future when analyzing a day-old baby? I am also curious how the doctors define "suffering" as most infants, especially those in vegetative states, will probably never "suffer" in that they are unaware of their lives in contrast to reality. It is the parents who suffer and so I wonder if that is not what infant euthasia is primarily designed to relieve.

2. No possibility of a cure.
With the sophistated advancement of medical research, technology, and the ever-chaning scene of medicine and medical breakthroughs, how can one determine that a baby born today could not be cured during the course of his or her lifetime? This protocol also rules out prayer, miracles, misdiagnosis, and God's intervention.

3. Parents must give consent.
Here, the entire fate of the child is being decided upon by fallible human beings with no omniscient knowledge of their baby's future or the future of medical research.

4. Must have a second opinion - consent of the doctor.
Again, the fate of the child is put into human hands. A moral choice is made on behalf of a newborn infant who cannot speak on its own behalf. The decision is also made prematurely before the baby is alive long enough to be observed or thoroughly diagnosed.

5. Deliberate ending of life must be meticulously carried out with thought of aftercare.
Finally, we have one point that seperates the Groningen Protocol from Adolph Hitler and Dr. Joseph Mengle. Yet, aftercare creates a bit of a paradox. Showing mercy to the parents of a child who you refused to show mercy to.

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