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Ethics of refusing parental requests to withhold or withdraw treatment from their premature baby
  1. R J Boyle1,
  2. R Salter1,
  3. M W Arnander2
  1. 1Department of Paediatrics, Hillingdon Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Medicine, St Thomas Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr R Boyle
 Paediatric Registrar, Department of Paediatrics, Pield Heath Road, Hillingdon Hospital, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3NN, UK;


In the United Kingdom women have access to termination of pregnancy for maternal reasons until 24 weeks’ completed gestation, but it is accepted practice for children born at or beyond 25 weeks’ gestation to be treated according to the child’s perceived best interests even if this is not in accordance with parental wishes. The authors present a case drawn from clinical practice which highlights the discomfort that parents may feel about such an abrupt change in their rights over their child, and argue that parents should have greater autonomy over treatment decisions regarding their prematurely born children.

  • abortion
  • consent
  • child
  • treatment withdrawal

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