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Disabled infants being denied medical treatment, Vatican newspaper warns

Catholic World News - May 06, 2011

The denial of the right to life of the unborn has created a culture in which disabled infants are being killed through denial of medical treatment, neonatologist and bioethicist Carlo Bellieni warns in an published in L’Osservatore Romano.

Citing several studies, Bellieni writes that

leaving the last word to the parents--who are often overcome with anxiety and certainly not in possession of scientific know-how--and tying re-animation to future disability, gives the idea of an extension of the abortion law after birth, with the difference that in the case of newborns, death is not directly provoked but medical care is simply suspended, with the same result. At a time in which lip-service is paid to the rights of infants but in reality is ready to archive those rights when this infancy doesn’t correspond to an ideal model or expectations.

In many countries, and significantly in those with a higher standard of living, protocol exists to not re-animate babies born with a possibility of survival--in some cases decidedly high (Pediatrics, January 2006)--for the residual possibility of death or of having a handicap. The acceptance of these protocols by medical operators is astounding: perhaps out of a misguided sense of solidarity with the parents, or due to an aversion, which borders on eugenics, towards disabilities. Nor are there indications that in countries where such protocols are in place hospitals dissociate themselves or medical staff object. It is seriously worrying that selective re-animation has come to be considered normal routine in clinical practice.

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  • Posted by: GUY F. - May. 06, 2011 8:29 PM ET USA

    This is not an easy choice and frequently it must be made under pressure. Your wife has just had a difficult delivery and the MD tells you the baby will not survive the night and it would be cruel to use extraordinary means to keep your child alive for a few more hours. You tell me what a middle aged father is to respond to the MD in a first class hospital? We were left with our two wonderful children and grief.

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