Bioethics Quarterly

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 164–193

Potential for personhood: A measure of life the severely defective newborn, legal implications of a social-medical dilemma

  • Claire Thomas

DOI: 10.1007/BF00917063

Cite this article as:
Thomas, C. Bioethics Quarterly (1980) 2: 164. doi:10.1007/BF00917063


This paper asks for legislation that will remove criminal sanctions from good faith decisions by parents and physicians to allow severely defective newborns to die. In so doing it attempts to bring to satisfactory resolution conflicting points of view in the disciplines of moral philosophy, medicine, and law. This paper argues that euthanasia of severely defective newborns is morally justifiable and legally permissible within reasonable extensions of current interpretations of the Federal Constitution by the Supreme Court. It describes the medical dilemma, evaluates the moral issues involved, and delineates possible legal alternatives.

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© Human Sciences Press 1890

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  • Claire Thomas

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