Decisions About Handicapped Newborns

Values and Procedures
  • Diana E. Axelsen
Part of the Contemporary Issues in Biomedicine, Ethics, and Society book series (CIBES)


Margaret Mead, in her autobiographical Blackberry Winter, commented, “There is hope, I believe, in seeing the human adventure as a whole and in the shared trust that knowledge about mankind, sought in reverence for life, can bring life.” The scientific investigation of human reproduction has raised serious questions about whether our advancing knowledge is in fact encouraging reverence for life. New technology in the areas of prenatal screeening and abortion has led to questions concerning the morality of ending the lives of the unborn when handicaps are detected. The availability of more life-preserving technology has led to the question of whether its use for handicapped infants is always morally appropriate. In focusing on decision-making concerning handicapped newborns, I would like to use as a background Margaret Mead’s suggestion that we view the human adventure as a whole. Thus, we shall raise specific issues within the context of general ethical analysis of scientific knowledge and its applications.


Spina Bifida Handicapped Child Vigorous Treatment Parental Autonomy Prospective Parent 
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    I am indebted to Dr. Mary Harris, former director of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, for providing information on the composition of NIH advisory boards and on legislation in the area of genetic diseases.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1981

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  • Diana E. Axelsen

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