Deliberate termination of life in newborns in The Netherlands; review of all 22 reported cases between 1997 and 2004: analyse van alle 22 meldingen uit 1997/'04

Eduard Verhagen, J J Sol, O F Brouwer, P J Sauer

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39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To gain insight into the reporting and assessment of active termination of life in newborns in The Netherlands. DESIGN; Retrospective.

METHOD: Data on all cases of deliberate termination of life in newborns up to the age of 6 months, reported to the public prosecutor as from 1997 onward, were collected and compared.

RESULTS: In January 1997-June 2004, 22 cases of deliberate termination of life in newborns were reported. All cases concerned newborns with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Deliberate termination of life was acceptable to the physicians because of the presence of hopeless suffering, with no means of alleviating the suffering. In all cases, at least 2 doctors were consulted outside the medical team. In 17 of 22 cases, a multidisciplinary spina bifida team was consulted. All parents consented to the termination of life; in 4 cases they explicitly requested it. In 14 cases a combination of analgesics, sedatives and paralyzing drugs were used, in 8 cases only analgesics and sedatives were administered. For the public prosecutor the termination of life was acceptable if 4 requirements were properly fulfilled: the presence of hopeless and unbearable suffering, consent of the parents to termination of life, consultation having taken place and a careful execution ofthe termination. The mean time between reporting of the case and the decision concerning prosecution was 5.3 months. None of the cases led to prosecution.

CONCLUSION: Three cases of deliberate termination of life in newborns were reported in The Netherlands annually. The public prosecutor used fixed criteria to assess the case and all cases of active termination of life reported were found to be in accordance with good practice.

Translated title of the contributionDeliberate termination of life in newborns in The Netherlands; review of all 22 reported cases between 1997 and 2004
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)183-188
Number of pages6
JournalNederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde
Volume149
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22-Jan-2005

Keywords

  • Decision Making
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Euthanasia, Active
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Dysraphism

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