NRL News

British Health Secretary is probing allegations of child euthanasia

by | May 2, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Jeremy Hunt said the Department of Health is probing child euthanasia claims.  Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Jeremy Hunt said the Department of Health is probing child euthanasia claims.
Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Back in February British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he would investigate allegations by a retired doctor that sick children were being euthanized. That charge by Michael Irwin came literally hours after the Belgian legislature voted to make the country became the first nation in the world to legalize euthanizing children. (The King subsequently signed the bill into law.)

Appearing on LBC Radio this week, Mr. Hunt said, “An investigation is now under way by my department.” He added, “The police are not involved at the moment. I’m afraid I am not in a position to comment because it is highly sensitive.”

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Retired Dr. Michael Irwin

Retired Dr. Michael Irwin

There was considerable skepticism about Dr. Irwin’s motives in making his allegations, which came during a debate on LBC radio. The 82-year-old Irwin has claimed to have helped multiple people die at the Dignitas clinic in Zurich, Switzerland.

According to The Mirror newspaper, Irwin said, “It has happened in this country, very quietly. I know of one or two children over the last few years.” He explained, “It has been done under the pretext of what we call Double Effect where the child has been given huge doses of painkillers and so on, in order to relieve discomfort, pain and other symptoms.”

Back in February, the Mirror’s Andrew Gregory wrote

“Pressed by host Nick Ferrari whether the parents consented, Dr Irwin said: ‘That’s what I’m told, yes.’ Stunned Ferrari replied: ‘Right. Good lord.’”

Another comment Irwin made to Gregory only added to questions about his motives. Gregory wrote, “Dr. Irwin admitted he was ‘not completely happy’ about the move in Belgium as he said some children could be pressured into it by their parents.”

Having made that semi-qualifying statement, Irwin added, “Many children do develop great maturity about their illness and have perhaps a really genuine request that if nothing more can be done, they would receive euthanasia.”

Bioethicist Wesley Smith wrote that Irwin’s “hope, of course, is to normalize euthanasia in all its manifestations.” Smith added,

“The way things are going with Brits flying to Switzerland for assisted suicide, if the answer to the probe is yes, the call will not be to punish the child-killing doctors, but rather, to legalize their dark practice so it can be done in the light of day.”

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Categories: Euthanasia