DOCTORS' leaders yesterday condemned an expert on medical ethics who called for babies with severe disabilities to be given lethal injections to end their lives.
Professor Peter Singer, deputy director of the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University in Australia, said that in cases where doctors and parents agreed that a baby's disabilities were so overwhelming as to be incompatible with a decent quality of life, it would be kinder to end the baby's life deliberately rather than leave it to die.
"The standard practice is to withhold treatment such as antibiotics or in some cases feeding so the babies do die either from untreated infections or from starvation and dehydration," he said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "I think that is cruel and inhumane. It causes unnecessary suffering to the infants and their families. Once you make a decision that it is better that the baby dies you ought to be able to make sure that it dies easily and swiftly. That means by giving it a lethal injection." The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said that although there were cases in which it might be appropriate to withhold or withdraw treatment there was no justification for killing children. Guidelines on when to withhold or withdraw treatment were issued by the college last year. Professor Richard Cook, consultant neo-natalogist and spokesman for the college, said: "What I feel about people who want to bump patients off is that they are doing it for themselves. …