Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Fatal fetal paternalism


Heuser and colleagues' survey of obstetricians provides a valuable insight into the current management of severe fetal anomalies in the United States. Their survey reveals two striking features - that counselling for these anomalies is far from neutral, and that there is significant variability between clinicians in their approach to management. In this commentary I outline the reasons to be concerned about both of these. Directiveness in counselling arguably represents a form of paternalism, and the evident variability in practice is likely the result of physician personal values. However, Heuser's survey may, by shining a light on practice, provide an important step towards a more consistent approach.

  • Newborns and minors
  • withdrawal/withholding treatment
  • best interests
  • neonatology
  • intensive care
  • clinical ethics
  • allowing minors to die
  • donation/procurement of organs/tissues
  • prolongation of life and euthanasia
  • quality/value of life/personhood

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • Reproductive ethics
    Cara C Heuser Alexandra G Eller Janice L Byrne
  • The concise argument
    Julian Savulescu

Other content recommended for you