Term incompatible with life is ‘cruel and heartless’

A pro-life initiative has addressed the United Nations, calling for the medical establishment to discontinue the use of the term ‘incompatible with life’.

Every Life Counts travelled to Switzerland to mark the launch of the Geneva Declaration on Perinatal Care.

Speaking for the Irish group were parents of children deemed to be ‘incompatible with life’, medical experts and an Irish politician. Coverage of their talks can be seen in the video below.

Not a medical diagnosis

The declaration states: ‶As medical practitioners and researchers, we declare that the term “incompatible with life” is not a medical diagnosis and should not be used when describing unborn children who may have a life-limiting condition.

It goes on to say: “We fully support the development of perinatal hospice services for families who are told that their unborn child may not live for very long in the womb or after birth.″

A number of parents spoke at the UN including Grace Sharp, whose daughter Lilly Joy was born with Trisomy 18, or Edwards Syndrome, and lived for just four hours.

Destroying phrase

Describing the term incompatible with life, she said: “It is a destroying phrase that brings no hope to a vulnerable heart-aching situation.”

The mother said that although Lilly Joy only lived for four hours: “There was no doctor on this earth who could have told me she was going to die after four hours of living and breathing.”

Sarah Nugent, whose daughter Isabella lived for 54 days said: “No doctor can definitely say how long a child will live for and I feel that the value of these short lives is being hugely underestimated.”


She said that a diagnosis of ‘incompatible with life’ means, “no help, no hope, no intervention”.

The mother added: “This term means that in the doctor’s eyes it is not a real baby.” “This term gives no hope and there is always hope.”

Tremendous support

Republic of Ireland politician Mattie McGrath noted that the declaration has already received wide support in the Republic of Ireland, Spain and at Westminster.

Mr McGrath said: “It’s unnecessary, it’s cruel and it’s heartless” to use the term incompatible with life.

Tracy Harkin, a spokeswoman for Every Life Counts said the declaration has “received tremendous support from medical practitioners” and NGOs.

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