From a (Dutch) news report on the discovery of the remains of four babies in suitcases in an attic in the Frisian village of Nij Beets:
“People in the village of Nij Beets were shocked by the news of the baby murders. The municipality has called a meeting for villagers on Saturday afternoon.
The Netherlands has a maximum sentence of six years for manslaughter on children, and nine years for the murder of children.”
It must be said that there is as of yet no evidence that the babies were murdered by their young mother (who would have been 17 at the time of the first murder), but she is the prime suspect in the investigation.
The shock of the people in the village is only understandable, of course. The general tone in the media is also one of shock. Any murder case, especially when it involves (very young) children, should be met with shock and sorrow.
But blogger Jos Strengholt raises a very painful but important point. In my translation:
“That she [the mother] didn’t even realise that, had she done this to each child a few months earlier, there would have been no problem. How can you punish a woman that dumb?”
“Can someone please explain to me what the difference is between killing a three-month old foetus and a two-week old baby? Does the meaning of human life change? Does value increase with age?”
The same thoughts have been running through my head as well, especially in light of similar situation in France, where a mother killed eight of her own children. Abortion is legal in this country (and yes, I know there are rules and regulations in place, but that does not change the fact that if you want to get an abortion in the Netherlands, you can), but how exactly is it different from killing a child after it is born? Birth seems to be the only difference. Does a baby only become human when it is born then? Of course it doesn’t.
The fact is, we turn a blind eye when we can’t see the victim of murder, when it is hidden in the womb of a mother, but when it becomes visible, when it has taken its first breath and when it has been held by its mother (or at least by someone), we cry foul. There is an enormous double standard here.