The double standard of death

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.

6 thoughts on “The double standard of death”

  1. My thoughts exáctly! Plus: so many loving couples who are infertile or who have space in their families next to their biologically own children, who would have wanted to give these children a good life! But even that is hardly to be discussed in the Netherlands. I recall the reaction of medical doctors a few years ago, when a politician said that adoption should be posed to unwillingly pregnant women as an alternative to abortion … They were outráge: “How could someone suggest súch a cruel thing!”. Now, that is so terrible, the complete loss of perspective (not to say that adoption is perfect or anything, but to call thát cruel and abortion a good thing, is the world turned upside down IMO.

    1. Well, we do live in an upside-down world, and not just when it comes to abortion, adoption or related topics.

      But how adoption could be considered cruel, I just don’t understand. Cruel to whom? The parent who are unable or unwilling to have the child? The child itself? The adoptive parents? The medical doctors? Who?

    2. They referred mainly to the children who were to be adopted. According to them, it would be much better that these children are never born, so they won’t grow up in a less than ideal situation. but then, which child exactly grows up in an ideal situation? And do adoptive children, once they have reached the age they can say something about that, really hate their lives so much? I don’t think so! Perhaps statistically speaking a bit more than biologically own children (I wouldn’t know!), but yet this is no sound argumentation. Everyone has the right to grow up.

      1. Though a lot of adopted children experience difficulties with finding their place in life (questions like why did my mother reject me, what are my roots), I don’t think a lot of them will say their mother should have had an abortion. IC is right, there is a double standard, but haven’t there always been double standards? Think of the uncharitable treatment women who gave birth to children out of wedlock had to face in the past. The men who brought them in that position nearly always got away with it. We like to see double standards as things of the past, but, unfortunately, they are not. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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