Religion and Ethics in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Each year, neonatal Intensive care units (NICUs) in the U.S. and around the world help thousands of sick or premature newborns survive. NICUs are committed to the ideals of family-centered care, which encourages shared decision-making between parents and NICU caregivers. In cases of infants with conditions marked by high mortality, morbidity, or great suffering, family-centered care affirms the right of parents to assist in making decisions regarding aggressive treatment for their infant. Often, these parents' difficult and intimate decisions are shaped profoundly by their religious beliefs. In light of this, what precisely are the teachings of the major world religious traditions about the status and care of the premature or sick newborn? Few studies have grappled with what major religious traditions teach about the care of the newborn or how these teachings may bear on parents' decisions. This volume seeks to fill this gap, providing information on religious teachings about the newborn to the multidisciplinary teams of NICU professionals (neonatologists, advance practice nurses, social workers), as well as to parents of NICU patients, and students of bioethics. In chapters dealing with Judaism, Catholicism, Denominational Protestantism, Evangelical Protestantism, African American Protestantism, Sunni and Shi'a Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Navajo religion, and Seventh Day Adventism, leading scholars develop the teachings of these traditions on the status, treatment, and ritual accompaniments of care of the premature or sick newborn. This is an essential book that will serve as a first resort for clinicians who need to understand the religious dynamics influencing anyone making a difficult decision about her sick newborn.

Oxford University Press 280 pages

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