Loading
Proposal to withhold care from sick babies is unethical, Vatican adviser says
By David Kerr

.- A proposal to allow premature or sick newborn babies to die even when their life would be deemed worth living by medical staff has been condemned by a leading member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Doctor Carlo Bellieni says the suggestion being made by the Oxford-based physician James Wilkinson is both “flawed” and “an erroneous way of considering life.”

Dr. Wilkinson outlines his controversial argument in the American Journal of Bioethics. “The prevailing official view is that treatment may be withdrawn only if the burdens in an infant’s future life outweigh the benefits. ... I conclude that it is justifiable in some circumstances for parents and doctors to decide to allow an infant to die even though the infant’s life would be worth living,” Dr. Wilkinson wrote. 

But as Dr. Bellieni explained to CNA, such a suggestion makes for bad ethics and poor patient care. “Firstly, babies are not the property of their parents. Secondly, at birth parents are often stressed and full of pain and suffering.  The mother has the pain of childbirth. The father has the shock and stress of being faced with a very premature baby. When you’re in such pain and stress, you’re not really free to make clear-minded decisions that are so important for your offspring.”

Most importantly, Dr. Bellieni said, “the decision about life should only be taken on an objective basis and in the interest of the patient, not in the interests of a third party.”

Dr. Bellieni, who is a Director of the Neonatal Intensive Therapy Unit at Siena University Hospital, is internationally recognized as an expert in the field of neonatal care. In addition to being a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, he is also the Secretary of the Bioethics Committee of the Italian Pediatrics Society. 

Although the Italian neonatalogist said he doesn’t know whether hospitals in the Western world are actually practicing Dr. Wilkinson’s radical approach, he pointed towards recent research in Canada suggesting that newborn babies are now receiving less guarantees of treatment than adults. “It’s a very sad scenario. I believe that babies should receive more care than other patients but many philosophers now believe that newborns are not persons and so they actually are receiving fewer guarantees than older people.”

“Even when burdens do seem to be high, for example in the case of severe disability, this is not a sufficient reason to withhold life-saving treatments. After all, a disabled baby has a full right to life too,” Dr. Bellieni stressed.

“Dr. Wilkinson claims that the prevailing clinical view is contrary to this. If that is the case then it’s very worrying indeed and we cannot possibly accept such a viewpoint as ethical.”


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Aug
20

Liturgical Calendar

August 20, 2014

Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 19:23-30

Gospel
Date
08/19/14
08/18/14
08/17/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Ezek 34: 1-11
Gospel:: Mt 20: 1-16

Saint of the Day

St. Bernard de Clairvaux »

Saint
Date
08/18/14
08/17/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 19:23-30

Homily
Date
08/19/14
08/18/14
08/17/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: