When rights just won’t do: Ethical considerations when making decisions for severely disabled newborns
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.
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Hester, Lew, C. D., & Swota, A. (2015). When Rights Just Won’t Do: Ethical Considerations When Making Decisions for Severely Disabled Newborns. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 58(3), 322–327. https://doi.org/10.1353/pbm.2016.0004