[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
December 1992

Pediatric Euthanasia

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Section of Pediatric Critical Care (Dr Orlowski) and the Department of Bioethics (Dr Smith), The Cleveland (Ohio) Clinic Foundation; and the Department of Intensive Care Medicine, University of Nijmegen, St Radboud Hospital, the Netherlands (Dr Van Zwienen). Dr Van Zwienen was a visiting international scholar in intensive care and research from the Netherlands at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Am J Dis Child. 1992;146(12):1440-1446. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160240050019

• Pediatric euthanasia is currently practiced in the Netherlands on newborns, infants, children, and adolescents, although exact numbers are not known. Euthanasia in the Netherlands is generally assumed to be active and voluntary, but some cases of pediatric euthanasia would have to be characterized as nonvoluntary. Much of the motivation behind the euthanasia movement and the performance of pediatric euthanasia in the Netherlands is a genuine, compassionate desire to alleviate pain and suffering. In this study, we review the Dutch experience, with particular attention to the current practice of euthanasia on newborns, infants, children, and adolescents. We discuss pediatric euthanasia from an ethical point of view. We assert that more effective pain control, better symptom management, and psychosocial support of the dying and their families would alleviate the perception of suffering, and reduce the perceived need to resort to euthanasia.

(AJDC. 1992;146:1440-1446)