A British Medical Journal editorial has rejected neonatal euthanasia...
A British Medical Journal (BMJ) editorial has rejected neonatal euthanasia.
Writing a commissioned editorial, professor of paediatrics Kate Costeloe reviewed the situation in the Netherlands, where neonatal euthanasia is occurring, before going on to consider the situation in the UK. She referred to the Nuffield Council of Bioethics' November 2006 paper, Critical care decisions in fetal and neonatal medicine, and stated that its position - rejecting neonatal euthanasia even when life is intolerable - was received with relief by most UK paediatricians.
Professor Costeloe considered the reasons why UK doctors are resistant to accepting active killing as a therapeutic option: the slippery slope argument; the negative impact of the psychology of professional staff; and the pressure parents may feel to accept euthanasia 'so that they do not become a burden on medical and social services'. She went on to discuss how difficult it is to judge another human being's quality of life, and described how indicators of severe disability in very preterm babies are not foolproof. She then emphasised the experience many neonatal nurses have in assessing babies' palliative care needs.
Her conclusion: 'the availabilty of active euthanasia as a therapeutic option would undermine this progress [of transparency of clinical decision making, with parents increasingly involved] and would be a step backwards'.
Professor Costeloe's recommendations give further support to the Nuffield Council's clear rejection of neonatal euthanasia.
Read more - Care Not Killing's analysis of the Nuffield Council's report.