By Gudrun Schultz

  SYDNEY, Australia, February 8, 2007 ( – One-in-three Australian doctors would euthanize newborn babies who were sick and suffering, according to a recent survey.

  The survey was conducted by researchers at Sydney’s Westmead Children’s Hospital—results showed 32 percent of participating physicians would consider euthanizing a suffering newborn baby.

  The report found a strong correlation between the doctors’ attitude towards their own death and their willingness to resort to euthanasia, with those who feared a slow and painful death more likely to end the lives of suffering patients, reported Feb.7.

  Dr. Peter Barr, a neonatologist for the past 30 years, produced the survey in the form of an anonymous questionnaire that would carry no legal consequences for the participating physicians. Dr. Barr published a paper Feb.6 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood in which he found that doctors who suffer from a fear of death may subconsciously decide to euthanize an infant to “appease their own personal death anxiety.”

  Those doctors who were afraid of cremation or of their bodies being donated to medical research, on the other hand, were less likely to cause the death of sick babies.

  Most of the doctors surveyed said it would be more humane to euthanize patients with medication than to cause “undo suffering” by withdrawing food, water or oxygen.

  Margaret Tighe, president of Right to Life Victoria, said the findings were of “grave concern.”

“Nobody has the right to kill another person on the basis of what they perceive to be their future quality of life,” she said.

“These days sick children are not kept in pain. There have been tremendous advances made in caring for people with severe disabilities and I think that doctors have a duty to do the best they can.”

  Almost all of the 78 neonatologists questioned (94 percent) said they would give sufficient medication to control pain in terminal cases, even if the high dosage might inadvertently hasten death.

  There are no ethical concerns associated with administering enough medication to control the suffering of those who are terminally ill, even if the drug levels are enough to hasten the death of the patient. Euthanasia is limited to cases where the action of the physician intentionally causes the death of patient, who would otherwise continue to live at that present moment.

  Dr Rosanna Capolingua, chairwoman of the Australian Medical Association’s ethics committee said, “We do not believe that doctors should be involved in any way with the intention of causing death or assisted suicide.

“But, indeed, doctors will be involved in the relief of pain and suffering in a terminally ill patient when it may be that providing that relief may hasten death,” she said.

  See related LifeSiteNews coverage:

  Editorial: Why not Allow Euthanasia for Disabled Infants?- A Satire

  Australian Euthanasia Advocate Who Committed Suicide was Cancer-Free says Autopsy

  Euthanasia of Infants by Doctors Responsible for Nearly Half of Newborn Deaths in Belgium

  UK Docs: “Active Euthanasia” on Disabled Newborns Will Cut Abortion Rates