Over the years the field of medicine has grown and improved by leaps and bounds, infant care has not been immune to this growth. In a time span of only 30 years the survival rate of a low birth weight child (about 2 pounds) rose from not likely to live long to a 70 to 71 percent chance of survival. About 20% of premature infants will have no lasting major physical or mental impairment. Not only are we able to save the lives of infants that would otherwise have no chance of survival, but we are able to do so with a 20% chance of zero major impairments.
Currently it seems that society is divided between providing all babies showing any sign of life at delivery with heroic measures in order to resuscitate them and only working to keep an infant comfortable until they pass away on their own, where resuscitation is seen as a waste. Baby Doe laws passed in 1985 requiring that all newborns be treated with lifesaving trea...
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... off. Also, while using machines might provide the infant with more time for their lungs to develop, we cannot measure the damage that being born prematurely has already caused. Using multiple surgeries to repair a defect that will still allow the infant to suffer for the rest of their life needs to be weighed out against the quality of that life. We cannot look merely at the fact that the infant will be alive and that should be enough, because it should not be enough. As a society we should want the same for these impaired infants as we do for all other infants, as close to a normal, healthy, life full of quality as possible. We should want the world for these infants just the same as we would want for any other infant. If an infant has no hope to come close to these qualities, then we should allow nature to decide whether the infant is meant to live in this world.
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