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July 18, 1986

Which Babies Shall Live?: Humanistic Dimensions of the Care of Imperiled Newborns

Author Affiliations

University of Washington Seattle

JAMA. 1986;256(3):408-409. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380030110043

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"A sense of the complexity of human affairs, a respect for human particularity, an interest in the ethical, the just and unjust sides of the social order, [and] an awareness of life's unremitting contingencies" are the "stuff of the humanities at their best" (R. Coles, Harvard Medical School commencement address, 1978). It is therefore not surprising that individuals concerned about the troubled world of parent and physician decision-making anent catastrophically ill newborns have enlisted the perspectives offered by the humanities to broaden the understanding of the tragic choices faced by those in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Thomas H. Murray and Arthur L. Caplan are two such individuals. They have edited a series of essays that are the work of The Hastings Center's Research Group on Ethics and the Care of Newborns. Which Babies Shall Live? draws on the insights of philosophers, a historian, a theologian, an anthropologist, and others