Einde van lewe besluite ten opsigte van defektiewe babas : 'n juridiese perspektief

Rossouw, Elzaan (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2006.12)

Thesis (LLM (Private Law))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

End of life decisions regarding defective babies raise several controversial questions. The root of the problem in withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment from defective babies lies in the conflict between human emotions, technological advancements and legal considerations. As a result of advances in medical science and neonatal technology, the lives of defective babies can often be saved or indefinitely prolonged. The question has become not whether we can treat these babies, but rather whether we should. Whether or not a defective baby’s life must be prolonged raises serious moral and ethical issues. A life compromised by severe physical and mental handicaps is weighed against an early and painless death. The best interest of the baby is the primary consideration from a legal point of view. Various factors must be taken into account to give content to this concept. Another central question is to determine who the decision maker(s) should be and what weight should be given to their opinions. Due to the fact that defective babies can not participate in this decision making process or communicate their wishes and preferences, surrogate decision makers must decide on their behalf. In sharp contrast to England, America and Canada, there is hardly any literature and no reported case law in South Africa to demonstrate the complexity of end of life decisions regarding defective babies. Selective non-treatment of defective babies have received little attention in the South African law. The Bill of Rights, inspired by regional and international Conventions determine the framework from a juristic perspective wherein decisions must be made and justified. This framework requires that the focus must be on the most vulnerable and dependant, namely the defective baby.

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