Despite significant advances in neonatology, there will always be newborns with serious life-threatening conditions creating most difficult bioethical dilemmas. Active euthanasia for adult patients is one of the most controversial bioethical questions; for severely ill neonates, the issue is even more complex, due to their inability to take part in any decision concerning their future. The Groningen Protocol introduced in 2005 by P.J. Sauer proposes criteria allowing active euthanasia for severely ill, not necessarily terminal, newborns with incurable conditions and poor quality of life in order to spare them unbearable suffering. We discuss the ethical dilemma and ideological foundations of the protocol, the opinions of its defenders and critics, and the dangers involved. The Jewish perspective relating to the subject is presented based on classical Jewish sources, which we trust may enrich modern bioethical debates. In Jewish law, the fetus acquires full legal status only after birth. However, while the lives of terminally ill neonates must in no way be actively destroyed or shortened, there is no obligation to make extraordinary efforts to prolong their lives. Accurate preimplantation or prenatal diagnosis might significantly reduce the incidence of nonviable births, but active killing of infants violates the basic foundations of Jewish law, and opens the ‘slippery slope’ for uncontrolled abuse. Therefore, we call upon the international medical and bioethical community to reject the Groningen Protocol that permits euthanization and to develop ethical guidelines for the optimal care of severely compromised neonates.

This content is only available via PDF.
Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer
Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.
You do not currently have access to this content.