Title

When rights just won’t do: Ethical considerations when making decisions for severely disabled newborns

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-1-2016

Subject Area

ARRAY(0x56392290b550)

Abstract

Children born with severe handicapping conditions, where survival and quality of survival is indeterminate, present special challenges for families and health-care professionals tasked with deciding the best courses of treatment and care. The case of Baby G presents an opportunity to compare the relative effectiveness of ethical versus rights theories in providing guidance about what obligations are owed to such children at bedside and how those obligations pertain to broader societal duties in a rights framework. We review common theories of determining the “best interests standard” of newborn decision-making and the priority of families to decide on behalf of their children. We then discuss what support the rights framework of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) might lend to the best implementation of clinical ethics decision-making. Finally, we conclude that the universal nature of rights theory does not provide the particular, specific guidance needed at the bedside of the critically ill infant.

Publication Title

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

Volume

58

Issue

3

First Page

322

Last Page

327

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1353/pbm.2016.0004

PubMed ID

27157349

ISSN

00315982

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