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Clin Perinatol. 1996 Sep;23(3):573-81.

Parental discretion in refusal of treatment for newborns. A real but limited right.

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Department of Theology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA.


Manslaughter charges were brought in Lansing, Michigan against Gregory Messenger, a local dermatologist, for removing his extremely premature infant son from a ventilator in a neonatal intensive care unit. The issue in the case was the degree of intervention required for the newborn for whom the parents had been counseled that there was a 50% to 70% mortality and that if the child did survive, there was a 20% to 40% chance of severe intraventricular hemorrhage and a likelihood of substantial respiratory problems. In light of those grim data, the parents requested that no aggressive measures be undertaken. The neonatologist instructed her physician's assistant to ventilate if the child was "vigorous." The homicide charge was based on Gregory Messenger's failure to provide proper medical treatment for his infant son.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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