Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ethical Creep

In England we are having an ongoing debate about what to do with babies born under 25 weeks. Although many babies born at this stage are able to survive as a result of intensive care, such treatment is expensive for the NHS. Furthermore, research presented at a Royal College of Paediatrics conference reveals that babies born at 25 weeks cost almost three times as much to educate by the time the child reaches six. Professor Sir Alan Craft, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, has raised concerns about the ‘lifetime cost’ of keeping these children alive.

In 2005, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists issued a statement on the ethics of prolonging life in fetuses and the newborn. In their statement, they complained about the way this debate was being steered by "an underlying, hardly conscious, drift or 'ethical creep'."

'Ethical creep.' Hmm?

In questions of human life, if you aren't careful, the big beast Ethics does have a tendency to rear its nasty head around every corner. Most inconvenient for those who want to quantify human value by economics categories.

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