The baby MB case: medical decision making in the context of uncertain infant suffering

Journal of Medical Ethics 33 (9):541-544 (2007)
The recent MB case involved a dispute between an infant’s parents and his medical team about the appropriateness of continued life support. The dispute reflected uncertainty about two key factors that inform medical decision making for seriously ill infants: both the amount of pain MB experiences and the extent of his cognitive capacities are uncertain. Uncertainty of this order makes decision making in accordance with the best-interests principle very problematic. This article addresses two of the problems that cases such as that of MB pose for those charged with making medical decisions for infants. First, the question of the moral significance of the interest in avoiding pain is considered. It is claimed that this interest can be outweighed by higher-order interests such as those related to autonomy but that where such higher-order interests do not exist, the interest in avoiding pain should be prioritised. Second, the question of how to proceed in cases in which the level of pain or the extent of an infant’s higher-order interests cannot be decisively established is considered. It is suggested that when genuine uncertainty over the interests of an infant exists, parental views about treatment should prevail.The English family courts recently adjudicated on another case involving conflict between parents and a medical team over the provision of life-prolonging medical treatment for an infant. At the time of the ruling, MB was an 18-month-old boy with type I spinal muscular atrophy. His life expectancy was very short , he was almost completely paralysed and he required constant ventilation. MB’s parents wanted a tracheotomy to be performed to facilitate long-term ventilation and allow for some independence from the hospital ward, but the ….
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1136/jme.2006.017335
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,442
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Andrew Chignell (2001). Infant Suffering Revisited. Religious Studies 37 (4):475-484.
Helga Kuhse (1986). Death by Non-Feeding: Not in the Baby's Best Interests. [REVIEW] Journal of Medical Humanities and Bioethics 7 (2):79-90.
Kumiko Yoshitake (2008). The Ethical Action Principle in Decision-Making. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 5:75-83.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

9 ( #439,662 of 1,925,108 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #418,130 of 1,925,108 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.