The Dutch Paediatrician's Association has said that terminally ill children in unbearable suffering should be given the right to die.

The group urged the suppression of the current 12-year age limit, with paediatrics professor at Groningen University who is on the association’s ethics commission saying “we feel that an arbitrary age limit such as 12 should be changed and that each child’s ability to ask to die should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis,”

Children in the Netherlands aged 12 or over can request euthanasia (mercy killing) if they are terminally ill, suffering unbearably, able to express their will and have parental approval.

Dutch pediatricians want a commission to be set up to examine the question further.

A change in the law would bring the Netherlands in line with Belgium, which in 2014 became the first country in the world to pass a law allowing euthanasia for a young child who has the “discernment” necessary to decide to give up life.

The law offers the possibility of euthanasia to children “in a hopeless medical situation of constant and unbearable suffering that cannot be eased and which will cause death in the short-term.”

Counselling by doctors and a psychiatrist or psychologist is however required, as is parental approval.

Verhagen said that five children were euthanized in the Netherlands between 2002 and 2015; a 12-year old and four youths aged 16 to 17.