Euthanasia advocate Prof. Peter Singer visits neonatal facility with ethics students
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- A group of undergraduate students at Princeton University wrestled first-hand with the ethical question of whether the life of a premature baby should be ended if medical data predict a low chance of survival. Bioethics professor Peter Singer took 13 students from his Ethical Choices seminar to visit the neonatal intensive care unit at Saint Peters University Hospital in Metuchen last week, reported the Princetonian.

At the hospital, 13 students saw premature babies, surrounded by life support machines and attached to a number of tubes. They came upon a 2-hour-old baby, who was born 14 weeks premature, weighed 365 grams and measured nine inches. 

Because of the possibility of mental and physical defects, Singer argues the infant's parents should be able to decide whether to shut off her life-support machines and end her life.

Singer has stirred controversy with these views, with some groups labeling him a "baby-killer.” He says societies throughout history have used selective infanticide for the greater good. Singer also refuses to equate killing newborns with killing adults, saying newborns are not self-aware and therefore different from adult humans and animals worthy of protection.

However, Neonatal Medicine Director Dr. Mark Hiatt maintained that the nine-inch baby was fully human and rejected Singer's view. "This is a child, somebody's daughter," Hiatt said. "Hopefully she'll be with us for many weeks and eventually go home with her mother and father."

Hiatt told the class that a family asked him to withhold care for their premature baby because of financial reasons. The father was in graduate school and had a young family already. Hiatt asked them to seek another hospital.

"We [at St. Peter's] don't want to do all this aggressive, heroic intervention unless there's a good possibility that this will be an intact, healthy child," he told the students. "I could never do anything to terminate a life. I became a doctor for the opposite reason."

Hiatt said he would only allow a baby to die by withdrawing care – called passive euthanasia – and letting nature runs its course. "As a society, I don't think we want our doctors to [perform active euthanasia, where the doctor directly ends someone's life]," he added. "I wouldn't do it. I couldn't do it. I'm not an executioner."

Not all students, however, accepted Hiatt's reasoning. Student Nic Poulos called the doctor’s distinction between active and passive euthanasia "semantics."

"He's enabling the child's death, period," Poulos said. Singer said he doesn’t see a distinction either and says that in the case of the graduate student, he would have agreed with the parents.

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


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
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

Liturgical Calendar

December 20, 2014

Advent Weekday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Judg 13: 2-7, 24-25A
Gospel:: Lk 1: 5-25

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27