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Ethical Considerations of Newborn Euthanasia: A Quality of Life Approach

Bednar, Tomas (2011) Ethical Considerations of Newborn Euthanasia: A Quality of Life Approach. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This thesis develops the proper role of quality of life assessments in situations of newborn euthanasia. Initially spurred by the Groningen Protocol of the Netherlands, which was a protocol outlining the criteria for non-voluntary newborn euthanasia of seriously ill or impaired newborns, this paper considers the practice of newborn euthanasia within the context of the current decision making frameworks already in place in this country. Specifically, this paper relies on informed consent and the best interest model as well as the generally accepted respect for parental authority in medical decision making. In light of these current standards of practice, this paper argues that in order for newborn euthanasia to be ethically permissible, it must be split into two primary decision making processes. The first is the decision to provide euthanasia as a medical option, which rests solely with physicians. The second is the decision to actually euthanize the child, which rests with the parents or guardian of the child. Both of these decisions are dependent upon assessments of the newborn's current and future quality of life. The decision to provide newborn euthanasia must be based on a set of components of quality of life that are sufficiently universal so as to allow them to be applied to any newborn and to maintain a reasonable degree of uniformity of assessments between physicians in the same case and in like cases. This thesis identifies five components of a minimally decent quality of life that physicians should use to determine whether to offer newborn euthanasia as a medical option. Once this decision has been made, parents take on the responsibility of considering whether the child's current and future quality of life justify newborn euthanasia. This decision is understood in the context of the broad deference that the medical community gives to parents in their treatment decisions made for their children. The physicians' decision to provide euthanasia as an option is meant to inform the parent's decision but is in no way meant to obligate compliance.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairParker, Lisa Slisap@pitt.eduLISAP
Committee MemberMeisel, Alanmeisel@pitt.eduMEISEL
Committee MemberSatkoske,
Date: 27 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 24 November 2010
Approval Date: 27 January 2011
Submission Date: 2 December 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Bioethics
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: euthanasia; newborn euthanasia; quality of life
Other ID:, etd-12022010-173314
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:07
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:52


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