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Consider Euthanasia For Severely Disabled Babies, College Tells Doctors

An issue which is likely to arouse strong feelings either way has been brought up by senior doctors at a medical college in Britain - the proposal suggests mercy killing of// new borns who are severely disabled.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology put forth this recommendation as the solution to the incresing numbers of the "children of a lesser god" who are being kept alive because of the advanced technology in the medical field.

It says that the financial, physical and emotional burden on the parents is tremendous and the whole family can be disabled as a result. According to the proposal these factors must be considered, and active euthanasia is an option which should at least be debated .However the doctors did not list out the specific conditions for which it should be considered.

An inquiry into the ethical issues raised by the policy of prolonging life in newborn babies by extraordinary measures, is being carried out by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The college wants the euthanasia proposal to be included as part of it.

Euthanasia is illegal in Britain but the submission is looked upon favourably by geneticists, medical ethicists and some mothers of severely disabled children.

The doctors said that if the options for mercy killing were legal and available, late abortions which may endanger the mother could be prevented.

"We would like the working party to think more radically about non-resuscitation, withdrawal of treatment decisions, the best interests test and active euthanasia as they are ways of widening the management options available to the sickest of newborns."

As can be expected, such a proposal is not universally accepted. John Wyatt, consultant neonatologist at University College London, said that intentional killing was not part of medical care and that most medical professionals feel that if it was introduced, the foundation of medical science would be altered.

The British Council of Disabled People also disagreed strongly with the submission, looking upon with disfavour the idea of telling anyone with some particular disabilities that they were not as good as others.

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