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Cultural explanations and clinical ethics: active euthanasia in neonatology
  1. Ayesha Ahmad
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ayesha Ahmad, Medical School, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK; a.ahmad{at}

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The authors have undertaken a study to explore the views in non-Western cultures about ending the lives of newborns with genetic defects. This study consists of including active euthanasia alongside withdrawal and withholding of treatment as potential methods used.

Apart from radicalising the support for active euthanasia in certain instances of neonatal diagnoses, is another interesting point that views of children and death are shaped by religion and culture and are especially highly charged with culturally specific symbolism/s. Furthermore, this is augmented in the context of non-Western cultures—further polarising the positivist ethics of Western scientific medicine from the cultures that affect only those who are members of ‘other’ societies.

From this starting point, the authors shift the focus from clinical explanations of the causation and prognosis of the genetic defects and enter a dialogue with cultural narratives. Consequently, their argument is, broadly, a reassessment of medical practice as a contextualisation of a particular culture/s rather than indifferent or independent from cultural forces or influences.

This is a radical claim. …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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