Decreasing disabilities by letting babies die


Dr. Patrick Marmion MD, MPH

Issues in Law & Medicine, Volume 33, Number 2, 2018

A catholic hospital is decreasing the prevalence of disabilities in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) survivors. The hospital developed guidelines that encourage parents to allow their premature baby to die. Using extremely negative message framing, a physician guides the prospective parents to choose to forego an examination of their baby when it is born. Making this choice before birth ensures that no intervention or health care will be provided. The goal is to decrease the probability that the family will leave the hospital with a baby who will be disabled. The outcome is the death of a baby who may or may not have been disabled.

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