12/09/04 — Approved killing: Dutch practice recalls the days of the Nazis

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Approved killing: Dutch practice recalls the days of the Nazis

For nearly five years during World War II, the Netherlands endured brutal occupation by Nazi Germany. The Dutch people lived under harsh rule, and many were shipped off to death camps.

You would think the Dutch would be among the last to adopt any of the views and customs of the Nazis. In some ways, however, they are leading the way back to practices that shocked the world when they were revealed with the fall of the Third Reich.

The Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia, and doctors there sometimes agree to kill people who wish to die. Now there is discussion of a proposal to take permitted homicide even further and allow mercy killings of terminally ill infants.

It gets worse. One hospital, Groningen Academic Hospital, has disclosed that it has already allowed euthanasia of newborns.

The country’s primary medical association, KNMG, has urged the Health Ministry to create an independent board to review cases to determine whether terminally ill patients “with no free will” can be put to death. These would include children, mentally retarded people and those in comas.

That would be alarmingly similar to Nazi doctors deciding who was fit to live.

We in the United States cannot dictate policy to Holland, but we should protest, and we should be resolved that no such practices will ever be tolerated in this country.

Our reverence for life has already waned to the point that many Americans approve of partial-birth abortion for the sake of convenience. Let’s not let it wane further.

Unless we as a society believe that there is innate dignity and value in human life, the value of our own individual lives is diminished.

To decide to kill a person rather than to care for him is outrageous.

Published in Editorials on December 9, 2004 11:11 AM