Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 14 (2):251-259 (2017)
AbstractThe Groningen Protocol, introduced in the Netherlands in 2005 and accompanied by revised guidelines published in a report commissioned by the Royal Dutch Medical Association in 2014, specifies conditions under which the lives of severely ill newborns may be deliberately ended. Its publication came four years after the Netherlands became the first nation to legalize the voluntary active euthanasia of adults, and the Netherlands remains the only country to offer a pathway to protecting physicians who might engage in deliberately ending the life of a newborn. In this paper, I offer two lines of argument. The first is a positive argument for the Protocol, grounded in the good of the newborn as unanimously determined by those in a position to determine it. The second addresses the widely shared belief that the killing of newborns is morally prohibited, where I offer two arguments—one grounded in the fact that the kinds of cases the Protocol is meant to govern are very rare and highly unusual, and the other focused more broadly on the role of pre-theoretical beliefs in moral reasoning—meant to undermine the strong role that the critic of the Protocol affords this belief. I argue that, given this second line of argument, the beliefs underlying my positive argument for the Protocol are in fact more secure than the widely shared belief underlying the critic’s position.
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