The Groningen Protocol for newborn euthanasia; which way did the slippery slope tilt?

J Med Ethics. 2013 May;39(5):293-5. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2013-101402.


In The Netherlands, neonatal euthanasia has become a legal option and the Groningen Protocol contains an approach to identify situations in which neonatal euthanasia might be appropriate. In the 5 years following the publication of the protocol, neither the prediction that this would be the first step on a slippery slope, nor the prediction of complete transparency and legal control became true. Instead, we experienced a transformation of the healthcare system after antenatal screening policy became a part of antenatal care. This resulted in increased terminations of pregnancy and less euthanasia.

Keywords: Decision-making; End-of-life; Ethics; Neonatology.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / ethics
  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data
  • Abortion, Induced / trends*
  • Choice Behavior / ethics
  • Clinical Protocols*
  • Decision Making / ethics*
  • Euthanasia, Active / ethics
  • Euthanasia, Active / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Euthanasia, Active / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn*
  • Netherlands
  • Prenatal Diagnosis* / standards
  • Terminal Care / ethics
  • Terminal Care / methods
  • Terminal Care / standards
  • Terminal Care / trends
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • Wedge Argument*
  • Withholding Treatment / ethics