Intended for healthcare professionals


The Netherlands regulates ending the lives of severely ill neonates

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 08 December 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1357
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. Utrecht

    The Dutch government is to introduce greater legal protection for doctors who end the life of severely ill and hopelessly suffering newborn babies. The country will set up a reporting mechanism that will scrutinise such decisions and ensure that doctors are not automatically investigated for murder.

    Doctors who in exceptional circumstances intentionally end the lives of such babies will be judged by a committee of medical and legal experts to whom all cases must be reported.

    Ending the life of a baby will remain illegal. But the committee's advice to the public prosecution service will be crucial. In practice, doctors adhering to detailed criteria drawn up by the profession are unlikely to be prosecuted. …

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