Non-treatment of defective newborn babies


Lancet, 1980-01-05:49



- In your introduction to an unsigned paper on Non-treatment of Defective Newborn Babies (Nov. 24, p. 1123) you state that "the editorial view was that the balance of benefit lay in anonymity". Balance of benefit to whom? To the anony-mous children's physician nursing to death babies with trisomy 21 and mourning them so tactfully thereafter? Or to the hospi-tal in which such a mortuary facility is replacing a treatment ward? Or to you, Sir, indulging yourself in an anti-medicine scoop without revealing its source? Or to all three, because in-fanticide is still a criminal offence in civilised countries?

The whole history of medicine is at hand to answer any un-known death-doctor. Those who delivered humanity from plague and rabies were not those who burned the plague-stricken alive in their houses or suffocated rabid patients between two mattresses. Health by death is a desperate mockery of medicine.

Victory against Down syndrome - i.e., curing children of the ill-effect of their genic overdose - may not be too far off, if only the disease is attacked, not the babies. The length of the road to be covered before such an achievement cannot be pre-dicted, but at least wounded parents have the right to know that life-doctors still exist and that we will never give up.