Kiwi Polemicist

August 29, 2009

• Dutch court stops teen Laura Dekker sailing around the world

The comments button is at the bottom right of this post.

This is from the BBC:

A Dutch court has put a 13-year-old girl under state care for two months, stalling her bid to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

The decision by three Utrecht judges means Laura Dekker’s parents, who support her plans, temporarily lose the right to make decisions about her.

A child psychologist will now assess her capacity to undertake the voyage.

Miss Dekker says she is happy with the ruling, but she will try to convince the authorities to let her set sail.
Mr Dekker [Laura’s father] had earlier had a request for her to miss two years of school turned down.
The Dutch Child Protection Agency had requested Miss Dekker be made a ward of court because, it said, it was “irresponsible for such a young girl to make a two-year solo trip around the world”.

The judges agreed, ruling Miss Dekker would face mental and physical risks if she were allowed to go ahead with her planned record attempt.

Miss Dekker was put under the guardianship of the Utrecht Youth Care agency and the case will be reviewed after two months.

Peter de Lange, the Dekkers’ lawyer, described the case as “exceptional”.

“The crucial question is whether it is wrong for parents to allow their child to indulge in her passion,” he told Radio Netherlands.

Caroline Vink, a senior adviser on youth protection in the Netherlands, said the case needed to be “looked into”.

“We’re talking about a 13-year-old,” she told the BBC. “You can also question whether she’s able to take this decision for herself, and whether the parents are making the decision in the best interests of Laura.” [note that the BBC calls it “state care” – a very dubious notion, if not an oxymoron – rather than “state custody”, “state detention”, or “state control”]

So, two parents want to let their daughter sail around the world but the state thinks that this is “irresponsible” and forcibly takes control of the child in order to stop her going. That’s after the parents were forced to ask for the state’s permission to take the girl out of school (and refused, because of course turning up at the school assembly is far more important than practical lessons in maths, meteorology, maturity, and so on. Also, children must be sent to state indoctrination camps so that they don’t grow up and become dangerous independent thinkers. Heck, people might even want to sail around the world alone if independent thinking was allowed).

The fact that the state wants to send her to a psychologist in order to “assess her capacity to undertake the voyage” shows that medical professionals are given a god-like status these days. How is a psychologist – who presumably doesn’t know the girl from a bar of soap – supposed to assess her capacity to undertake the voyage? Surely her parents know her best and are best able to make this assessment. Furthermore, the parents have already sailed around the world with Laura on board, so they will have seen how she responds to bad weather, emergencies, etc.. Presumably the psychologist won’t be able to replicate a 120 km/h gale plus 30 foot waves in his office when he is assessing Laura.

The bottom line is this: Laura is the dominion of her parents, and it is illegitimate for the state to force her to go to school, force her to go to a psychologist, and steal her from her parents. The parents alone should decide what Laura is and is not allowed to do.

The hypocrisy of the Netherlands government

The Dutch Child Protection Agency says that it’s “irresponsible” for Laura’s parents to allow her to sail around the world. Do they also say that it’s irresponsible when Dutch parents kill their babies with the state’s blessing?

Euthanasia of people as young as 12 became legal in Holland in 2001, but euthanasia was widespread before then and a lot of those decisions were made by the doctor alone. A pro-euthanasia doctor called Eduard Verhagen said that 22 case of infant euthanasia were reported to authorities in 1997-2004; it is safe to assume that the actual number was far greater than this in view of the widespread use of euthanasia. Then in 2005 the Dutch government adopted the Groningen Protocol that Verhagen designed. This protocol meant that doctors were allowed to kill babies with parental consent: the killing is technically illegal, but if they follow the protocol the doctors won’t be prosecuted¹. Supposedly euthanasia is only allowed when a baby is a “seriously ill”² and doctors must approve the decision (another sign of their god-like status in modern Western cultures: quite similar to the traditional status of shamans and witch doctors in many ways).

xxxxxHypocrisy #1: euthanasia is legal for people as young as 12, and the explicit consent of the individual is required. A person under 17 must also have parental consent and doctors must also give their approval. So the state is saying that a 12 year old can make a life-or-death-decision and the parents must endorse that decision, but when a 13 year old wants to sail around the world, with parental consent, the state gets out the big guns and takes the child away from the parents.

xxxxxHypocrisy #2: on one hand the state says that it is wrong for Laura Dekker’s parents to allow her to do something that might kill her, but it is fine for parents to definitely kill their “seriously ill” babies.

Can you see what these apparently contradictory positions have in common? In all situations the state will only allow people to do what it thinks is in the best interests of children, and to hell with the opinion of parents unless they share the opinion of the state. If the state thinks it is not in the best interests of your child to go sailing it won’t allow it, and if the state thinks that death is in the best interests of your baby it will allow you to kill that baby. I detect the stench of moral relativism coming from the totalitarian nanny state called Holland.

We live in a sad, sick world where people think that the state is all-knowing and all-wise, therefore it should be allowed to control the life, death, and actions of individuals³. Oh for a free world where Laura Dekker’s parents would be able to take her out of school and send her sailing around the world without state interference.

What do you think about the court taking Laura Dekker away from her parents in order to stop her sailing?


Related articles:

1) In New Zealand doctors have the final decision when it comes to “do not resuscitate” decisions:

Coroner’s report on the death of Folole Muliaga

2) Judging by what I have read, Dutch doctors are abusing their power when deciding to euthanise someone without consent. Abuse of power by doctors is described here:

Doctor-Bullies Flourish In Public/State Hospitals

2a) An example of abuse of power: “The situation in which euthanasia can be practiced with impunity is also increasing [in Holland]. First, only in cases of unbearable and uncontrollable suffering near the end of life, can euthanasia at the patient’s request exempt a doctor from prosecution. Today, the handicapped, new borns, comatose patients, and even completely healthy but depressed people have been euthanized without punishment by the courts. Some Dutch doctors, hearing about the British successes with palliative care, answered that they did not need to study it, as they could apply euthanasia instead.

What this change in mentality means in practice, is shown by a few examples. An internist, called to see a lady with lung cancer who breathed with great distress, told her that he could help her, but that he would prefer to admit her to his hospital. The patient refused, as she feared to be euthanized. But the doctor told her that he would be on duty during the weekend and would admit her himself. She did go on Saturday. On Sunday night, she was breathing normally. On Monday morning the doctor was off duty. In the afternoon, he came back to the hospital but the patient was dead. A colleague had come in that morning and said, ” We need that bed for another case. It makes no difference for her whether she dies today or after a fort night! So, the patient was euthanized against her explicit will.

I, myself, had a discussion with a colleague about administering morphine. I maintained that large doses are needed to kill a patient. At first he denied this, but suddenly said, “You are right. I remember a case of an old man who could die any day. His son came to see me. He was booked for a holiday and did not want to come home for his father’s funeral. He wanted the funeral to be over with before he left. So I went to see the old man and gave him a huge dose of morphine. In the evening I came back to declare death, but the patient was happily sitting on the edge of his bed. At last, he had gotten enough morphine to kill his pain.” My colleague told this story as if it were the most normal thing to do: to kill a patient in order to please the family [too bad if he wanted to say good bye or make peace with someone before he died].” (source)

3) Deliberate termination of life of newborns with spina bifida, a critical reappraisal.

OBJECTS: Deliberate termination of life of newborns (involuntary euthanasia) with meningomyelocele (MMC) [spina bifida] is practiced openly only in The Netherlands. ‘Unbearable and hopeless suffering’ is the single most cited criterion for this termination, together with the notion that ‘there are no other proper medical means to alleviate this suffering’. In this paper, both (and other) statements are questioned, also by putting them in a broader perspective. METHODS: First, a historical overview of the treatment of newborns with MMC is presented, concentrating on the question of selection for treatment. Second, a thorough analysis is made of the criteria used for life termination. Third, a case of a newborn with a very severe MMC is presented as a ‘reference case’. CONCLUSION: ‘Unbearable and hopeless suffering’ cannot be applied to newborns with MMC. They are not ‘terminally ill’ and do have ‘prospects of a future’. In these end-of-life decisions, ‘quality of life judgments’ should not be applied. When such a newborn is not treated, modern palliative care always will suffice in eliminating possible discomfort. There is no reason whatsoever for active life-termination of these newborns. (source: you can read the entire study if you wish)

4) Another good reason not to give doctors life-or-death powers: “The March 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine featured an article by two Dutch doctors defining a “problem” and a “solution.” Drs. Verhagen and Sauer announced that a survey had found that, contrary to Dutch law, some infants with severe disabilities have been euthanized. In an effort to end “uncontrolled” euthanasia, they proposed adoption of a set of protocols, known as the “Groningen protocol,” for legally euthanizing infants with disabilities and serious medical conditions.

However, there is significant evidence that at least some medical professionals in the United States would embrace legalization of infanticide based on disability. It wasn’t that long ago that passive euthanasia of infants with Downs Syndrome and spina bifida was an accepted practice here, and it’s still unclear to what extent the practice persists.

The sentiment for facilitating the deaths of infants with disabilities is evident in numerous research studies. For example, in 2001, Streiner and colleagues published a study in Pediatrics comparing the attitudes of parents and health care professionals in “quality of life” assessments of premature infants. The study found that neonatologists and neonatal nurses were both more pessimistic about pediatric outcomes, and also more likely to judge death to be the best outcome, than were the parents or siblings of the same children. This study, conducted in Canada, is consistent with earlier U.S. studies that have demonstrated a bias on the part of medical professionals in devaluing the lives of infants with severe disabilities. No one should mistake this bias for anything other than what it is ­ an over-valuation of physical and mental norms, which is bigotry.

That prejudice is often mistaken for objectivity in bioethics discussions. It’s one reason most public discussion of euthanasia is tainted by misinformation. For example, the Associated Press story on the Groningen protocol misinformed readers that the protocol applied to “euthanizing terminally ill newborns.” This is a gross distortion: Verhagen and Sauer made no attempt to hide that they were talking about newborns with “serious medical conditions.” “(source. Link added)

Footnote 1: source.

Footnote 2: “seriously ill” is the term used by Verhagen.

Footnote 3: the background to this belief is explained in my post titled What is a “social contract”?



1 Comment »

  1. Crossing the Oceans in a boat barely 30ft. in length is insanity at best. But to allow your child to do it alone as a trick of some kind is insane period. Just one more crazy unnecessary thing for us to pray for.

    Comment by Greg Parry — July 29, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

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