Friday, September 18, 2009

Ethics in the NICU

This series of posts by RealityRounds was so thought-provoking that I simply had to link to it - check it out (Rixa at Stand and Deliver has also linked to these entries):

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a War Zone

Is Letting a 21-week Premature Baby Die Considered Health-Care Rationing?

NICU Nurses Are Baby Killers?

I found these posts both fascinating and disturbing. For anyone who doesn't know, I am 100% pro-life... and yet I thought she made some very good points. I spoke to a Christian midwife a couple of years ago who expressed similar thoughts to what RealityRounds writes - that the attempted resuscitation of very, very young infants can sometimes be barbaric rather than loving.

But at the same time, I wouldn't want to be in the position of judging - "This life is worth saving, that one is not." I remember, for example, Baby Faith Hope, who, though not a preemie, was a baby fated to an early passing due to anencephaly. At first, Faith's mother was unable to find caregivers who were willing to do anything for her daughter - her OB simply wanted to deliver the baby and let her die. But her mama eventually found caregivers who were willing to give her care, and baby Faith lived beautifully for three months at home with her mother. (Of course, this was not a matter of major, life-saving resuscitation procedures being needed - baby Faith only needed a little bit of care to let her live out her lifespan, and there were no big measures taken to prolong her life unnaturally when it was time for her to go.)

What a hard predicament for caregivers.

As a parent... what would I do? Theoretically, I would much prefer to have a preemie (with no hope of survival) die peacefully in my arms rather than be subjected to horrifying and painful procedures and die in torment because of them. But.... as a mother, could I give up hope of a "miracle baby"? And what would be morally right to do? I don't know. It's something that's simply too heart-stopping and horrendous to contemplate for long. In fact, I think I'll stop now because it's just too upsetting.

Don't quote me - I haven't come to any definite position - it is an area that can show up as quite grey. I think I'll get some opinions from those who are more well-versed in life-ethics than I (this is you, J. and K.). And I would love anyone's input on this. What do you think? But it's definitely food for thought! I'd love to hear what anyone has to say.....

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we live in a difficult age -- where we have to choose between whether it's more ethical to save a life, or to let the life end.

    I share a lot of the same conflict and emotions you indicated. Is it necessary to do everything possible to prolong the inevitable? But then... is it inevitable? Somebody has to beat the odds!

    So many conflicts...



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