J Med Ethics 39:293-295 doi:10.1136/medethics-2013-101402
  • The argument
  • Paper

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

  1. A A Eduard Verhagen
  1. Correspondence to Dr A A Eduard Verhagen, Department of Paediatrics, University Medical Centre Groningen, P.O. Box 30.001, Groningen 9700 RB, The Netherlands; a.a.e.verhagen{at}
  • Accepted 4 February 2013


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.