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Selective non-treatment decisions involving severely handicapped neonates have recently come under renewed judicial and legislative scrutiny. In this article, the author examines the legal, ethical and social considerations attendant to the non-treatment decision. In Part II he discusses the predominant ethical viewpoints relating to this issue and proposes a new moral standard based on personal interests. Part III presents a survey of the jurisprudence relating to selective non-treatment decisions. Parts IV and V of this article provide a critical examination of the recently enacted Child Abuse Amendments of 1984, a federal legislative initiative designed to regulate treatment decisions relating to handicapped infants. The author suggests that the ethical standards and treatment criteria proposed in this article may prove useful to courts seeking to balance the handicapped neonate's constitutional right to privacy with the requirements of the new federal law.

Publication Citation

11 Am. J.L. & Med. 31-78 (1985)