ERIC Number: ED277888
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1986-Dec-8
Infanticide: A Critical Issue.
Walters, Norma J.
Infanticide in the United States today usually happens in the hospital. Occasionally, handicapped infants are killed by a direct act, but more often infanticide is accomplished by withholding something (for example, food, medication, surgery) that babies need to survive. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Baby Doe regulations of May 1982, and the Child Abuse Amendment of 1984 are among the legislative measures that have attempted to protect handicapped infants' rights to medical treatment and general health care (including good nutrition). The decision whether to provide or withhold such services from handicapped infants has not been so clear-cut for health care practitioners and medical ethicists. Quality of life and the burdens on families and society posed by the responsibilities of raising and caring for handicapped individuals are issues that make suicide and mercy killing acceptable to many persons. Others believe that impaired infants are not human persons and hence not covered by legislation protecting individual rights. Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals grapple with medical treatment decisions every day. They are pressured by a variety of factors including the catastrophic costs of care, and many health profesionals report being under increasing pressure to stop care when babies are irreversibly ill. Numerous case studies confirm that no religious, philosophical, or scientific consensus exists on the issue of infanticide, and for this reason, many hospitals have been spurred to form ethics panels or committees to address treatment dilemmas before they arise. (MN)
Descriptors: Allied Health Occupations, Case Studies, Child Abuse, Child Neglect, Child Welfare, Civil Liberties, Decision Making, Disabilities, Ethics, Family Problems, Federal Legislation, Health Needs, Health Services, Infant Mortality, Infants, Medical Services, Public Health Legislation, Quality of Life, Victims of Crime
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual National Health Occupations Education Division Conference (Dallas, TX, December 8, 1986).