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Letter: The market value of newborn lives

Sir: On reading Liz Hunt's article (20 January) on the Office of Health Economics report on premature birth costs, I couldn't help but reflect on how, in a society immersed in market values, so very few seem willing to accept the principle of cost in any form.

How interesting also that those whose main concern is economic cost seek constantly to express it in terms of personal cost, or cost to society as a whole.

Jane Griffin, who we are told researched the report, sets so much store by her sums that she feels enabled to determine the 'eventual expected quality of life' for those under scrutiny.

So we are now to accept economists such as Ms Griffin and George Teeling Smith deciding for us what constitutes quality of life and whether or not it is deemed worthy to exist.

Most of us to whom they feel able to make their proposals with impunity are not disabled, disadvantaged, ill, old, unborn or premature. Just as well, it seems.

There is nothing new in money being more important than people. What is new is that there is now no need to hide it on the part of those who lead or seek to influence us.

Yours sincerely,


Hexham, Northumberland