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Sunday, November 5th 2006

Slackjawed

What I think is a stunning suggestion from a major specialty society in Britain. But what the devil do I know about medicine in England,

BRITAIN’S Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology is reportedly calling on doctors to consider euthanasing “the sickest of newborns” which it says can disable healthy families.

“A very disabled child can mean a disabled family,” the submission says.

“If life-shortening and deliberate interventions to kill infants were available, they might have an impact on obstetric decision-making, even preventing some late abortions, as some parents would be more confident about continuing a pregnancy and taking a risk on outcome.

“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.”

The newspaper reported that the college was not formally calling for active euthanasia to be introduced, but wanted the mercy killing of newborn babies to be debated by society.

The emphasis is my own. Look, I understand the argument that by euthanizing these children you save the…what…”mental” health of these families? But, I think most physician’s point and certainly mine is that the charge “first do no harm” needs to be a narrowly defined, non-evolving thing.

Okay, that might be overstating it. I think the debate over someone of clear mind choosing and consenting to end their life in a medical setting is still open.

But for those disabled or a child, where the family has (I’m sad to say it) a conflicting self interest…boy, this is not a situation we should even be considering.

We don’t need to start extending consideration to whether keeping a patient alive is doing “mental harm” to a family or costing them too much. What a strange, reprehensible suggestion by the College of Obstetricians and Gynecology.

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