“Infant Doe”

Federal Regulations of the Newborn Nursery Are Born
  • I. David Todres


The audience assembled represents a large cross section of individuals committed to health care: physicians, nurses, social workers, hospital administrators, lawyers, and the ministry. Most of you have read of the “Baby Doe” regulations and their implications for the care of severely handicapped newborns. It will be helpful to review the chronological events leading to these regulations and their present status. I should then like to consider why these are such difficult ethical dilemmas. As a physician practicing at the bedside, I shall be describing a perspective on these issues from the standpoint of the physician’s role in the decision-making process.


Down Syndrome Federal Regulation Passive Euthanasia Federal District Court Chronological Event 
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Selected Readings

  1. 1.
    Fletcher, J. C, Abortion, euthanasia and care of defective newborns, N. Eng. J. Med. 292:76 (1975).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fost, N., Ethical issues in the treatment of critically ill newborns, Pediat. Ann. 10:17 (1981).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    McCormick, R. A., To save or let die, JAMA 229:172 (1974).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research, Deciding to Forgo Life-Sustaining Treatment ,U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC (1983), 197–229.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Robertson, J. A., and Fost, N., Passive euthanasia of defective newborn infants-Legal considerations, /. Pediat. 58:887 (1976).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Shaw, A., Randolph, J. G., and Manard, B., Ethical issues in pediatric surgery: A national survey of pediatricians and pediatric surgeons, Pediatrics 60:588, Supp. 1977.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sinclair, J. C., et al. ,Evaluation of neonatal-intensive care programs, N. Eng. J. Med. 305:489 (1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Todres, I. D., Krane, D., Howell, M. C., et al. ,Pediatricians’ attitudes affecting decision-making in defective newborns, Pediatrics 60:197 (1977).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wegman, M. E., Annual summary of vital statistics-1980, Pediatrics 68:755 (1981).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Weir, R. F., Selective Nontreatment of Handicapped Newborns: Moral Dilemmas in Neonatal Mediciney New York, Oxford University Press, (1984).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Aubrey Milunsky and George J. Annas 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. David Todres
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care UnitsMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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