The Council’s Working Party on the ethics of prolonging life in fetuses and the newborn has been featured in reports in the media on several occasions during the past week. Much of the coverage has suggested that the Working Party is considering proposing a 24-week limit on providing treatment to premature babies. We would like to clarify that the Working Party has not yet debated the question of whether any such limit would be justified. For the past three months, the Working Party has consulted the opinions of all interested people, including professionals and families. Questions were asked on a wide range of issues, including whether a limit of any kind should be set. All the views expressed will be carefully considered and will add to the value of the final Report. The Working Party plans to publish its conclusions towards the end of 2006.

The media coverage may have increased awareness of the consultation. As such, the Council has decided to extend the deadline for submission of responses by two weeks to Thursday 23 June 2005.

Professor Margaret Brazier
Chair of the Working Party and Professor of Law, The University of Manchester

For further information, please contact:

Catherine Joynson
Communications & External Affairs Manager
Nuffield Council on Bioethics
28 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3JS
Tel: +44 (0)20 7681 9619
Fax: +44 (0)20 7637 1712
  • Expert tells doctors: let youngest premature babies die Sunday Times 5 June 2005

  • Babies ‘should not be saved’ at 24 weeks Telegraph 6 June 2005

  • Call for premature birth threshold The Herald 6 June 2005