Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Prosecutor will not Appeal Acquittal of Neonatal Doc Accused of Murder

Today, the prosecutor in the much publicised case (my former post describing the details of the case as well as the court's ruling is here)  of a neonatal doctor that was accused of deliberately poisoning a terminal newborn infant to death let it be known that he will not appeal the decision of the district criminal court to free the doctor on all charges.

The reason given, which looks plausible, is that an appeal would require further evidence, but that no further evidence is to be had. This motivation as well as the decision was expected on the basis of the reasoning of the court in its ruling. Press comments can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, just to name a few.

The foremost consequence of this, besides the obvious relief for the formerly charged doctor, is that the criminal legal situation of neonatal intensive care specialists is now in fact more certain than it used to be. The trial has resulted in the situation that no prosecutor can in the future claim that the kind of residues of sedatives used for palliation that were found during a forensic autopsy in the present case can be regarded as good reason for prosecution on criminal charges. This since the verdict of the court is that such residue may very well be the result of a perfectly legitimate process of palliative care of a dying patient.

Rapid Response to Coleman's Article in BJP Forthcoming

So, following my former posts on this subject (here, here and here), I decided to enter the discussion following Priscilla Coleman's article on abortion and mental health in the British Journal of Psychiatry. My response, entitled "The Correct Use of Ethics and Precaution with Regard to Abortion and Mental Health" concerns not the scientific quality of Coleman's work or the plausibility of her conclusion, but rather the practical implications of this field of research. This is a topic cautiously touched on by Coleman herself and, much less cautiously, addressed by several commentators in the ensuing debate. I basically argue that all of the claims made to this effect are unwarranted and based on faulty reasoning. Since the letter is in submission I will not expose it here until it is either published or rejected.

Interested readers may in the meantime find great pleasure in reading the most recent rapid response from Ben Goldacre and William Lee.

Stay tuned!