Allow 'active euthanasia' for disabled babies, doctors urge
Doctors are urging health regulators to consider allowing the "active euthanasia" of severely disabled newborn babies.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology has put forward the option of permitting mercy killings of the sickest infants to a review of medical ethics.
It says "active euthanasia" should be considered for the overall benefit of families who would otherwise suffer years of emotional and financial suffering.
Deliberate action to end infants' lives may also reduce the number of late abortions, since it would allow women the chance to decide whether their disabled child should live.
"A very disabled child can mean a disabled family. If life-shortening and deliberate interventions to kill infants were available, they might have an impact on obstetric decision-making," the college writes in a submission to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.
"We would like the working party to think more radically about non-resuscitation, withdrawal of treatment decisions, the best interests test, and active euthanasia, as they are ways of widening the management options available to the sickest of newborns."
Such mercy killings are already allowed in the Netherlands for incurable conditions such as severe spina bifida. John Harris, a member of the official Human Genetics Commission and professor of bioethics at Manchester University, welcomed the college's submission. "We can terminate for serious foetal abnormality up to term, but cannot kill a newborn," he told The Sunday Times. "What do people think has happened in the passage down the birth canal to make it OK to kill the foetus at one end of the birth canal but not the other?"
Dr Pieter Sauer, co-author of the Groningen Protocol, the guidelines governing infant euthanasia in the Netherlands, said British medics already carry out mercy killings and should be allowed to do so in the open. "English neonatologists gave me the indication that this is happening."
But the paper quoted John Wyatt, consultant neonatologist at University College Hospital, as saying: "Intentional killing is not part of medical care... once you introduce the possibility of intentional killing you change the fundamental nature of medicine. It becomes a subjective decision of whose life is worthwhile."
Simone Aspis of the British Council of Disabled People said: "Euthanasia for disabled newborns tells society that being born disabled is a bad thing. If we introduced euthanasia for certain conditions, it would tell adults with those conditions that they are worth less than other members of society."
sportLiverpool 5 Norwich City 1: Uruguayan striker has now scored 11 league goals against the club
arts + entsOlivier-nominated actor and singer is set to star in Lloyd Webber's musical about the Profumo affair
filmWith more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
Life & Style blogs
Autumn Statement 2013: Car tax disc scrapped after 93 years
The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies
The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
The 50 Best Christmas Gifts for Women
Flock star: A shepherd in the Lake District now has almost 20,000 Twitter followers
- 1 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 4 Hate With Friends: Now you can find out who your Facebook frenemies are
- 5 ‘Put it in my mouth’: Viewers outraged by apparent reference to oral sex in VIP e-cig advert
£Negotiable: Citifocus: High calibre individual with a strong understanding o...
£50000 per annum: Morgan Hunt: Whilst the Real Estate sector was suffering thi...
£41000 - £46000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Newly Qualified ...
£21000 - £24000 per annum: Morgan Hunt: Morgan Hunt are working in partnership...