If We Knew
Peter Lataster, Petra Lataster-Czisch, The Netherlands, 2007, color, video, 75'
Around the beginning of the 21st century, Dutch pediatricians were accused by a number of foreign religious groups of using Nazi methods. According to the accusations, they regularly “murdered” newborn babies because they had too many birth defects. From up close and without comment, If We Knew documents a group of pediatricians on the maternity ward of a hospital as they fight the daily battle to treat critically ill newborn babies and save them if possible. The process often involves tough dilemmas and ethical questions about quality of life and the limits of medical science. We see the doctors at work by the incubators, where tiny babies lie connected to countless sorts of machines, fighting for their lives. We listen to the pediatricians’ long and arduous discussions with colleagues and parents. In voice-over, the doctors explain how they experience their work, and how powerless they feel when a child dies in their hands. But they also struggle with the question of whether there is still a point in further treatment, and what the price would be if a seriously disabled child were to survive. Their stories and actions express great commitment and dedication, refuting the accusations that they would act immorally.