Neonatal ethics Neonatology Text

Essay: Palliative care for babies following a diagnosis of lethal fetal abnormality

For many clinicians working in obstetrics, fetal medicine and genetics, termination seems to be the rational, obvious, decisive “solution” when a diagnosis of a lethal or life-limiting malformation is made before birth.

Following a diagnosis of a life-limiting condition, many parents are shocked and confused. They find themselves in a painful and emotionally charged situation that they had never imagined. They ask themselves “How do responsible parents act in this situation?”. As a result they are frequently open to implicit suggestion and manipulation from professionals, and many parents opt for an abortion, at least in part because of explicit or implicit pressure from health professionals.

However, over the last decade there has been a growing realisation amongst health professionals in the UK that termination of pregnancy is not the only viable option following the antenatal diagnosis of a life-limiting malformation…

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