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We have discussed the Belgian legislation that would open euthanasia to children more than once t Human Exceptionalism.


Clinical Ethics 2013 8: 75 – DOI: 10.1177/1477750913499494
Serge Vanden Eijnden and Dana Martinovici

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, CHU Charleroi, Belgium
Fetal Medicine Department, CHU Charleroi, Belgium
Katholiek Universiteit Leuven (KUL), Belgium


Active ending of the life of a newborn baby is a crime. Yet its clandestine practice is a reality in several European countries. In this paper, we defend the necessity to institute a proper legal frame for what we define as active neonatal euthanasia. The only legal attempt so far, the Dutch Groningen protocol, is not satisfactory. We critically analyze this protocol, as well as several other clinical practices and philosophical stances. Furthermore, we have tried to integrate our opinions as clinicians into a law project, with the purpose of pinpointing several issues, specific of perinatality that should be addressed by such a law.

In conclusion, we argue that the legalization of neonatal euthanasia under exceptional circumstances is the only way to avoid all the “well-intentioned” malpractices associated with ending life at the very dawn of it.

The online version of this article can be found at: