Many people dismiss all analogies to the Nazis because they are so often misused. The Dutch recently rejected the comparison of their infant euthanasia legislation to the Nazi practice of euthanizing handicapped children. While the comparison might be inflammatory and the Dutch claim they are motivated by compassion rather than bigotry, in the end it's the act and the rationale for it that matters and hopefully offends. Wesley J. Smith analyzes the comparison in "Killing Babies Compassionately."
The Groningen Protocol devised guidelines for hospitals when considering whether to kill disabled newborns. The Groningen University Medical Center killed 22 disabled newborns between 1997 and 2004. Studies covering 1995 and 2001 showed that in each of those years 8% of all newborns who died in the Netherlands were euthanized by doctors - and not always with the parents' consent. The Royal Dutch Medical Association approves of infant euthanasia if the baby is deemed to have an "unlivable life."
The "livableness" of a newborn's life is determined by a combination of factors, including the following:
* The expected measure of suffering (not only bodily but also emotional--the level of hopelessness)
* The expected potential for communication and human relationships, independence (ability to move, to care for oneself, to live independently), self-realization (being able to hear, read, write, labor), and the like.
* The child's life expectancy.
If the infant's "prospects" didn't measure up, the child could be euthanized.
The subsequently compiled Groningen Protocol--which is expected to form the basis for the official approval of Dutch pediatric euthanasia--similarly created categories of killable babies: infants "with no chance of survival," infants with a "poor prognosis and are dependent on intensive care," and "infants with a hopeless prognosis," including those "not depending on intensive medical treatment but for whom a very poor quality of life . . . is predicted." In other words, infant euthanasia is not restricted to dying babies but can be based on predicted serious disability.
But the Netherlands cannot escape this ugly fact: Dutch doctors kill scores of babies each year and justify this fundamental abuse of human rights upon the inherently discriminatory concept that they can decide that another human being's life is of such low quality it has no business being lived.