On Euthanasia and Babies

Hank Mattimore
December 5, 2004
Reproduced with Permission

Remember the Biblical account of a jealous King Herod ordering the massacre of all the infants in his territory lest one of them become king some day? In the Christian calendar this awful day of infamy is memorialized by the Feast of the Holy Innocents. I recall being horrified as that story was read to me as a small child. To this day, I shudder at the thought of tiny infants being put to death at the whim of a deranged king.

Unfortunately, the murder of children has continued through history. The Nazi regime in Germany put Jewish babies to death along with their moms and dads. The Japanese put to death infants during their infamous rape of Nanking. Just months ago Chechnian terrorists did not hesitate to rub out the young lives of Russian school children.

Now, in the Netherlands, under the guise of mercy killing, the Health Ministry is being petitioned to allow medical professionals to put to death newly born children who are suffering from an incurable disease or extreme deformity.

Mercy killing of adults is already legal in the Netherlands but children under the age of twelve were protected, presumably because kids were not capable of giving informed consent to their own extermination. Now, the prestigious Groningen Hospital is asking that the law set these safeguards for children aside. The hospital has gone even further in admitting that they have already carried out a number of mercy killings on underage children. In effect, they are saying, Hey, we're already putting children to death. Let's make it legal.

Killing infants and children? People may differ, in good conscience, about the morality of aborting a fetus but live children? No, this is where civilized societies have to draw a line in the sand. What gives us the right to take away an innocent life? Do we really think it's okay for a doctor to inject a child with a lethal sedative because, the child suffers from an incurable disease and the parents give their consent?

Don't we get it that our children are not our possessions? They don't BELONG to us in the same sense that we own our cars and our furniture. So what gives us the right to have them eliminated? And if parents do not have that right, certainly the state does not.

When the law permitting assisted suicide was passed in the Netherlands, opponents of the legislation were dismissed as fanatics for bringing up the old "slippery slope" argument. You know how the argument goes, if you allow doctors or the state to help put a consenting adult to death, what is to keep you from deciding sometime in the future to put persons to death without their consent? If today you give the medical profession the right to put to death kids who suffer from an "extreme deformity" what about mongoloids or marginally retarded babies in the future ?

To me this smells too much like murder. The babies will be killed not because they are going to die anyway and we want to ease their pain but because otherwise they will continue to live.

Why get upset over the Netherlands considering this policy? Because, guess what? Taking innocent lives wherever they are in the world diminishes us all. And, if you need to look closer to home, Oregon has an assisted suicide law on its books right now that is strikingly similar to the current law in the Netherlands. As far as I know, Oregon is not considering extending mercy killing to babies or to people who are incapable of making these decisions for themselves, but I am not convinced that the slippery slope cannot become a vertical drop if we are not careful. And if we don't have the humanity in our hearts to be careful of innocent children, may God have mercy on our civilization.