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J Med Ethics. 2006 Nov;32(11):643-51.

A case for justified non-voluntary active euthanasia: exploring the ethics of the Groningen Protocol.

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Arizona State University, West Campus, 4701 West Thunderbird Road, Phoenix, AZ 85069, USA.


One of the most recent controversies to arise in the field of bioethics concerns the ethics for the Groningen Protocol: the guidelines proposed by the Groningen Academic Hospital in The Netherlands, which would permit doctors to actively euthanise terminally ill infants who are suffering. The Groningen Protocol has been met with an intense amount of criticism, some even calling it a relapse into a Hitleresque style of eugenics, where people with disabilities are killed solely because of their handicaps. The purpose of this paper is threefold. First, the paper will attempt to disabuse readers of this erroneous understanding of the Groningen Protocol by showing how such a policy does not aim at making quality-of-life judgements, given that it restricts euthanasia to suffering and terminally ill infants. Second, the paper illustrates that what the Groningen Protocol proposes to do is both ethical and also the most humane alternative for these suffering and dying infants. Lastly, responses are given to some of the worries expressed by ethicists on the practice of any type of non-voluntary active euthanasia.

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