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

See all articles by Neera Bhatia

Neera Bhatia

Deakin University, Geelong, Australia - Deakin Law School

Mirko Bagaric

Director of the Evidence-Based Sentencing and Criminal Justice Project, Swinburne University Law School

Date Written: June 3, 2013

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Bhatia, Neera and Bagaric, Mirko, Best Interests of Neonates: Time for a Fundamental Re-Think (June 3, 2013). Journal of Law and Medicine, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 852-865, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2635332

Neera Bhatia (Contact Author)

Deakin University, Geelong, Australia - Deakin Law School ( email )

221 Burwood Highway
Burwood
Melbourne, Victoria 3125
Australia

Mirko Bagaric

Director of the Evidence-Based Sentencing and Criminal Justice Project, Swinburne University Law School ( email )

Hawthorn
Hawthorn
Burwood, Victoria 3000
Australia

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