Wednesday, December 1

On the Groningen protocol

Hugh Hewitt pushed a fox into the henhouse, declaring that the bloggers are not up in arms about the recent article about the Groningen protocol. A lively discussion on this matter is going on now at Joe Carter's site. Hugh makes some important points about this protocol that may be overlooked.


Under the Groningen protocol, if doctors at the hospital think a child is suffering unbearably from a terminal condition, they have the authority to end the child's life. The protocol is likely to be used primarily for newborns, but it covers any child up to age 12.

The hospital, beyond confirming the protocol in general terms, refused to discuss its details.

"It is for very sad cases," said a hospital spokesman, who declined to be identified. "After years of discussions, we made our own protocol to cover the small number of infants born with such severe disabilities that doctors can see they have extreme pain and no hope for life. Our estimate is that it will not be used but 10 to 15 times a year."

A parent's role is limited under the protocol. While experts and critics familiar with the policy said a parent's wishes to let a child live or die naturally most likely would be considered, they note that the decision must be professional, so rests with doctors.
(emphasis Mr Hewitt's)

I'd make several points about this.
  • If indeed the protocol restricts itself as indicated is limited only to patients with "extreme pain and no hope of life", then why not give the infant pain medication and remove life support.
  • Limiting a parent's role seems inhumane and elitist. It assumes the doctors and ethicists at the hospital "know best". As a parent, who also knows some doctors, I'd like to remind them that my child is ultimately my responsibility. One I take very seriously. I sure that I would never allow that responsibility to be ceded as part of my social contract. So I guess I'm glad I'm not a Lowlander.
  • The MSM is doing a disservice by ignoring this story. Medical ethics are one of the most important modern issues. Our biological sciences capabilities are growing with leaps and bounds. We need to be discussing matters like these, and far more dicey ones with far more vigor before the cat is let out of the bag.