This paper traces the development of parental rights to accept or to refuse treatment for a defective newborn infant in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America; its main purpose is to explore the common trends from which an acceptable policy may be derived. It is probable that the British law on parental decision-making in respect of infants suffering from Down's syndrome is to be found in the civil case of In Re B rather than in the criminal case of R v Arthur. United States court decisions are strongly influenced by constitutional law and reflect the right to personal privacy. The position on each side of the Atlantic seems very similar but this similarity includes a sense of uncertainty as to legal responsibility. There is a case for agreed guidelines and a suggested format is offered for consideration.
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