Decreasing Disabilities by Letting Babies Die

October 1, 2018
Edition: Fall 2018
Volume: 33
Issue: 2
Article: 4

Table of Contents


A Catholic hospital is decreasing the prevalence of disabilities in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU] survivors.  The hospital developed guidelines that encourage parents to allow their premature baby to die.  Using extremely negative message framing, a physician guides the prospective parents to choose to forego an examination of their baby when it is born.  Making this choice before birth ensures that no intervention or health care will be provided.  The goal is to decrease the probability that the family will leave the hospital with a baby who will be disabled.  The outcome is the death of a baby who may or may not have been disabled.

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About the Authors

Affiliation: Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Washington State University. Dr. Marmion is a Diplomate of both the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was awarded the Master of Public Health degree in maternal and child health at San Diego State University after receiving a B.S. in Chemistry from Northern Illinois University and his M.D. from the University of Illinois. He is currently an Associate Clinical Professor at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. He recently served as an Obstetrical Hospitalist for Legacy Health System in Portland, OR, where he taught residents from the Oregon Health and Science University while caring for critical care maternal transports from outlying hospitals. Prior to that he was the Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer at Healthy Beginnings in Cincinnati as well as Clinical Instructor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He has received several awards for innovation from The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. He serves as a member of the Maternal Mortality Review Board for the State of Washington and is a Medical Advisory Board Member at the Pregnancy Resource Centers of Greater Portland. He can be reached at I thank Laurette Elsberry for writing assistance, language editing, and proofreading.