It is the role of every medical professional to deliver care to ailing patients with compassion, always striving to preserve the patient’s life and dignity. The American College of Pediatricians is appalled by Netherlands’ recent legalization of Neonatal Euthanasia and Belgium’s legalization of euthanasia for terminally ill children of any age, and alerts healthcare professionals to the possibility of similar legislation in the United States.
The concept of euthanasia is based on a utilitarian worldview that defines the value of the individual in terms of that individual’s contribution to society. This ideology relegates neonates, especially those infants with congenital defects, to an expendable status. Dr. Den Trumbull states, “This belief system underlies many of the current proposals for the allocation of healthcare resources in America. Even the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prescribes that scarce resources be focused on adolescents and adults under 50. The youngest who have not yet contributed to society and the oldest that have already “lived long enough” are to receive only attenuated interventions. Under this system, certain newborn infants would be considered the least worthy to be recipient of available medical resources.”
Physicians are healers not killers. An individual’s future quality of life cannot be predicted by caregivers. The role of the physician is to promote health, cure when possible, and relieve pain and suffering as part of the care they provide. The intentional neglect for, or taking of, a human life is never acceptable, regardless of health system mandates. The killing of infants and children can never be endorsed by the American College of Pediatricians and should never be endorsed by any other ethical medical or social entity.
For more details and information, visit the link to the full College statement Neonatal Euthanasia: The Groningen Protocol at www.ACPeds.org.