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    Parents can now euthanise their terminally ill children aged 12 and under in the Netherlands

    By Gemma Parry,


    Parents in the Netherlands can now euthanise their terminally ill children aged 12 and under plans to widen the countries existing end of life laws.

    The Dutch Government announced plans to expand euthanasia regulations to include doctor-assisted death for terminally ill children between one and 12 years old on Friday.

    The rules would apply to an estimated five to 10 children per year, who suffer unbearably from their disease, have no hope of improvement and for whom palliative care cannot bring relief, the government have said.

    'The end of life for this group is the only reasonable alternative to the child's unbearable and hopeless suffering,' the government said in a statement.

    It comes nearly four years after 17-year-old Noa Pothoven was legally allowed to die at home after medics allowed her to refuse food and drink .

    The Dutch teen from Arnhem felt that life had become unbearable and she could no longer carry on after she was attacked and sexually assaulted on three separate occasions, beginning when she was just 11 years old.

    In a social media post one day before her death, Noa made her decision public.

    She wrote: 'I deliberated for quite a while whether or not I should share this, but decided to do it anyway.

    'Maybe this comes as a surprise to some, given my posts about hospitalisation, but my plan has been there for a long time and is not impulsive.

    'I will get straight to the point: within a maximum of 10 days I will die. After years of battling and fighting, I am drained. I have quit eating and drinking for a while now, and after many discussions and evaluations, it was decided to let me go because my suffering is unbearable.'

    Prior to the new rules, children as young as 12 could be granted euthanasia if they desired, but only after a doctor concluded that the patient's suffering was unbearable with no clear end in sight.

    The law already provided possible euthanasia involving terminally ill babies until their first birthday and for children aged older than 12 under the Groningen Protocol.

    Children between 12 and 15 could already ask for help to die under the laws if their parents agreed, and young adults aged 16 to 17 were already able to request euthanasia, but had to inform their parents.

    Extending the rules was decided upon after a 2019 study showed a need for an option to end the life of a child between one and 12 who suffer 'without hope or unbearably'.

    The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia under strict conditions back in 2002.

    All cases of euthanasia are required to be reported to medical review boards.

    Last year, only one case of euthanasia for a minor aged between 12 and 16 years old was reported, according to figures from the regional euthanasia review board.

    However, the Netherlands is not the first country to allow doctor-assisted death for children of all ages, as Belgium introduce rules for that purpose in 2014. The first child to die by euthanasia in the country was a 17-year-old in 2016.

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