A moment in human development: legal protection, ethical standards and social policy on the selective non-treatment of handicapped neonates

Am J Law Med. 1985;11(1):31-78.


Selective non-treatment decisions involving severely handicapped neonates have recently come under renewed judicial and legislative scrutiny. In this Article, the Author examines the legal, ethical and social considerations attendant to the non-treatment decision. In Part II of this Article the Author discusses the predominant ethical viewpoints relating to this issue and proposes a new moral standard based on personal interests. Part III presents a survey of the jurisprudence relating to selective non-treatment decisions. Parts IV and V of this Article provide a critical examination of the recently enacted Child Abuse Amendments of 1984, a federal legislative initiative designed to regulate treatment decisions relating to handicapped infants. The Author suggests that the ethical standards and treatment criteria proposed in this Article may prove useful to courts seeking to balance the handicapped neonate's constitutional right to privacy with the requirements of the new federal law.

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple*
  • Brain Diseases
  • Child Abuse / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child Advocacy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Ethical Theory
  • Ethics Committees, Clinical
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Euthanasia*
  • Euthanasia, Passive*
  • Federal Government*
  • Government Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Judicial Role
  • Legislation, Hospital*
  • Life Support Care / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Morals
  • Patient Selection
  • Professional Staff Committees / organization & administration
  • Public Policy
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stress, Psychological
  • United States
  • Value of Life
  • Withholding Treatment