Best Interests of Neonates: Time for a Fundamental Re-Think
Journal of Law and Medicine, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 852-865, 2013
14 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2015 Last revised: 16 Oct 2017
Date Written: June 3, 2013
This article examines the operation of the “best interests” test in relation to life and death decisions involving very young children. It is in this context that the best interests standard operates most acutely because it is not clouded by other considerations, especially individual autonomy. It argues that the standard is too obscure to provide an acceptable legal, medical and moral framework to inform life and death decisions. In particular, it argues that the basal assumption that underpins the test – that some lives are so pitiable that they should not continue – is conceptually ﬂawed. This should prompt a fundamental reassessment of the test, whereby the legislature establishes concrete criteria regarding the application, scope and content of the standard.
Keywords: best interests, end of life, extremely premature neonates
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