The decision to save the life of a child with Down syndrome is quite complex, and the topic is actively discussed in society. The parent’s decision whether to allow surgery to save the child, who may require costly long-term care and services for life, or withholding permission, thus causing the child to die, must be taken with particular prudence and awareness.
It is difficult to answer whether the refusal to treat a child is murder, but it is definitely a refusal to save a life. Aquinas gives examples of primary precepts, the first of which is to protect and preserve human life (Dimmock & Fisher, 2017). They are primary because they are true for all people in all instances and are consistent with Natural Law. According to this approach, refusing treatment will be morally wrong because it does not seek to save a person’s life.
From Bentham’s utilitarian point of view, all that matters is producing pleasure, and the way this is achieved is unimportant. (Dimmock & Fisher, 2017). The life of the parents of a child with Down syndrome will definitely become more complex. They will have to spend much more time, effort, and money to grow a baby. Therefore, it will not produce pleasure. Focus on the outcome of individual acts may lead to objection-raising examples such as “transplant surgeon”. At the same time, another utilitarian Mill introduces a quality criterion for pleasure. Mill says that: It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied (Dimmock & Fisher, 2017). In this approach, the pleasure parents will receive if they save the child cannot be compared with those if they do not. Almost all approaches are united by the view that human life is the main value. Whatever it is, no matter what difficulties it creates, if it is not about protecting one’s own life, it must be preserved with all available forces and resources.
Dimmock, M. & Fisher, A. (2017). Ethics for a-level. Open Book Publishers.