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Developments with Regard to End-of-life Decisions in Newborns

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Despite enormous technological advances in neonatology, there are still conditions that cannot be successfully treated. The decision when to start and when to withhold treatment in individual cases remains very difficult. Even more difficult are the decisions regarding end-of-life measures in infants who have no hope for improvement and lead a life of severe suffering that cannot be alleviated. Recently, there was a brief but intense wave of reactions in the international press concerning a supposedly new practice of terminating the life of severely defective newborn babies in The Netherlands.
These accounts derived, in particular, from developments in the University Medical Centre of Groningen where a protocol was developed together with the legal authorities, for life-ending measures without ensuing prosecution. Within the Netherlands, the protocol comes as the result of decades of debate both inside and outside the country (1).

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e-Published: 06 Jun, 2013
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