Rationing Care at the Beginning of Life?

"We're talking 1 percent of national health expenditures of all babies," said Lantos. "Ninety-nine percent of babies are not in this domain of moral controversy. If I were advising Congress, and they were given the power to start rationing, I'd start with old people [who are terminal]."

But even beyond that, there is little to suggest the public would accept it.

"I think babies represent hope, they represent the future, and because they do, because babies are very resilient," said Cole. "I think people are less likely to say that resources invested in a baby's survival are a mistake than they are to say resources invested in a very old person's survival are a mistake.

"I think it's possible people will talk about this, but I'm optimistic that because of the number of resources spent on end of life care for adults and the smaller amount spent [on newborns], it's unlikely that babies will be a major part of the discussion about curtailing resources at the end of life."

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