Child of twelve may decide about euthanasia?

Pastor and Bible teacher T. J. de Ruiter in The Netherlands

Today, Wednesday, the 11th of August '99, we had a sun eclipse over Europe. This could be more than symbolical for the days we live in here in Europe. Our socialist government is preparing a change of our law, so that children from the age of twelve can decide, if they want, to terminate their own life. The law-concept says something like this: "Incurable sick children, from twelve years and older, can ask a medical doctor to cooperate in euthanasia, even without the consent of parents or guardians, to releave them in their final state of unbearable suffering." Christian governmentparties reacted furiously, true, but what can we expect now in a country of which the overwhelming majority does not believe in Jesus?

There is criticism. How can a child of twelve that does not have permission to open a bankaccount on its own name, decide on its own to which school it shall go, still has no right to vote or cannot be served an alcoholic drink in a restaurant, decide about its departure out of life? Of course, it is assisted by a medical doctor, and an ethic expert. And what if parents insist that it should not leave this world, but should stay with them? This is not an issue to be decided upon by law, someone argues. What should be the guiding principle here? Does the Bible has an answer, a guide to show us the way? Do we, humans, decide in a time of unbearable suffering if our life is worth living? The Psalmist said, Psalm 31:16, "My times are in Thy hand, save me." I am reminded as I am writing this, of a story I heard way back in my college days. A British missionary was captured by the communists in China, just after the violent takeover. He was humiliated, brainwashed and cruelly tortured. Finally, at the end of his strength, they gave him a knive and said: "Kill yourself man, your life is not worth living anymore." He said: "No, my life is in Gods hands, the Bible says, I won't take it." They said: "Is this in your Bible?" He said: "Yes." They gave him a Bible and said to him in his state of utter exhaustion and weakness: "Show us where it is written and you will be free." He opened the Chinese Bible and prayed: "Lord, help me to show them Your Word." Anybody who knows a Bible in Chinese knows how difficult it is for a Westerner to find a certain verse in it. He opened the Bible, laid blindly his finger on a page and said: "Here, read it." There was the verse, unbelievable, a miracle! They were completely amazed. He lost consciousness and when he regained it, he was lying on the doorstep of the missionhome! He told this story himself in the sixties when he had returned to Britain! One of his tormenters came to faith in Christ and was later killed himself!

Who will tell suffering children that there is a God, who gave them life and though there is suffering, yet He is able to save, heal and make it all eternally worthwhile! Who will comfort our children with eternal truth, that saves their soul? It maybe easy to say and write this, but the Living God, his Presence, Power and Truth are our salvation through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

God, our Creator and Saviour, give us time to repent of our foolish ways and let faith, honor and dignity be restored in our country.

The Netherlands, august 1999

About the new law on euthanasia
Added to this article on 6 February 2001

The new law on euthanasia, that was accepted by the 2nd Chamber of the Dutch Parliament in the autumn of 2000, has no provision that children in the agegroup of 12-16 years could get permission for euthanasia without the consent of their parents or guardians. About the agegroup of 16-17 years the new law does state that these children can in principle ask independantly of their parents for euthanasia, though parents should be included in the deliberations with the physician about performing euthanasia.

The 1st Chamber of the Dutch Parliament will start with a debate about the new law in April 2001. If this Chamber accepts this law then it will be enforced in The Netherlands.

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