Thursday, March 10, 2005

Neonates’ Suffering and the Groningen Protocol

The New York Times reports that two Dutch doctors have drafted guidelines for decisions regarding euthanasia for neonates who are struck with a debilitating medical condition. Of the three criteria they came up with as starting points for the euthanasia consideration, the second (i.e., "poor prognosis and are dependent on intesive care") and especially the third (i.e., "hopeless prognosis...unbearable suffering") are the most ethically challenging. All-in-all, I doubt that these guidelines will help in anyway in the States for ethics committees charged with making these determinations as there is such a wide variance of legal rights and role-described oughts between the parties concerned (i.e., parents, doctors, etc.), and no clear decision procedure. Further, as stated in the article, some of the conditions described in category #3 (i.e. spina bifida) include individuals who are alive and making do just-fine-thank-you today.

As an aside, First Do No Harm by Belkin, is a great book that gives two accounts of such cases from the doctors and the parents points of view. I highly recommended it.


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