Whenever a genetically defective infant is born, a triptych of interests is challenged directly. For such a case not only tests the extent of the natural rights of the parents in making decisions regarding the infant's capacity for qualitative life, but the personal needs or the welfare of the child itself and the nature of the responsibilities of the State in ensuring the welfare of its citizens regardless of age or infirmity. Aggressive posturing by the United States government, through a complex regulatory scheme designed to assure protection of handicapped newborns, has in fact wreaked havoc on the whole decision-making process and assaulted the integrity and privacy of the family decisional unit. While lacking a similar governmental regulatory process of protection in England, the judiciary, nevertheless, has given a strong indication that circumstances may merit respect of parental decisions which preclude aggressive efforts being undertaken to maintain life for such infants. What would be helpful to parents, doctors and judges alike in deciding the gravity of birth impairment and ultimately whether to maintain life or allow it to abate with dignity and mercy would be criteria which would attempt to structure pragmatic medical standards for decision-making.
George P. Smith, II, Defective Newborns and Government Intermeddling, 25 MED. SCI. & L. 44 (1985).