A Groningen protocol defines the infant cases in which decisions need to be made to actively end the life of a new born (Lindemann & Verkerk, 2008). The motivation for the development of the protocol was to provide all the needed information both from the medical opinion and an assessment by the criminal prosecutors. Moreover, with the availability of this information, prevents the interrogation that is conducted by the police officers in the event of a life termination. However, during the last few months, the international press has spread a lot of rumors, and this has created room for misunderstandings regarding the protocol.
The groups that are used in the Groningen protocol are divided into three categories namely. First, these are infants who are classified to have no chance of survival. These are infants despite optimal care and also use of the best and most recent methods available they still do not have a chance of survival (Lindemann & Verkerk, 2008). An example of diseases that the infants could be suffering from is kidney hypoplasia and lungs. The second category is infants who have a very poor diagnosis and are dependent on intensive care for their primary care. These patients can live for a while but live an impoverished lifestyle and inferior prognosis as they depend on constant medication. The third categorization is infants who have no hope of survival based on the medics and parents’ assessment. However, it is important that the doctors are convinced there is no other way to rescue the newborn.
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Problems identified with Groningen protocol include; first, the ethical principle of the physician is challenged. The main aim of physicians is to provide treatment for patients and not to kill. Second, the justification of the protocol is based on “hopelessness and unbearable suffering” and “best interest of the patient, but it does not give any ethical argument for the identified clinical application. Third, the protocol is a basis for obstetric as neonatal practice in the world. Fourth, a misunderstanding has been developed that the treaty is aimed at babies with Spina Bifida (Lindemann & Verkerk, 2008).
Alternatives to Groningen protocol is in the care that is shown to the infants. Pediatric palliative care looks at a whole interdisciplinary approach where the physical needs, psychological needs and social needs of the patients plus their families are evaluated. There can also be involvement of expert managers in pain and associated symptoms especially for the patients with life threatening illness (Lindemann, & Verkerk, 2008). Finally, in conclusion, Groningen protocol has been deemed both morally and ethically wrong in the society. Moreover, it is being shunned by the international medical community, and it is to the patients’ family to weigh the price they have to pay when enacting Groningen protocol to their new born.
Lindemann. H & Verkerk, M. (2008). Ending the life of a n.e.w.b.o.r.n: Groningen Protocol the Hastings Center Report; Jan/Feb 2008; 38, 1; Research Library pg. 42