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April 11, 1986

The 'Baby Doe' Rule

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Drs Stevenson and Ariagno) and Medicine (Dr Raffin and Ms Kutner) and the Newborn Nurseries (Drs Stevenson and Ariagno), Stanford (Calif) University School of Medicine, and the Stanford Memorial Church (Dr Young).

JAMA. 1986;255(14):1909-1912. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370140107033

ON APRIL 9, 1982, "Baby Doe" was born in Bloomington, Ind. The series of events that followed, culminating in the "Baby Doe" rule, and their effects have been chronicled previously1,2 and are summarized in the Table. The final version of the Baby Doe rule,3 which was published Jan 12, 1984, and became effective Feb 13, 1984, reflects the history of emphasis on infants with severe congenital defects. The exceptions specified in the April 15, 1985, Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Treatment Program final rule also reflect the history of emphasis on easily identifiable conditions with predictable disabilities.4 They appear to be adequate for selecting appropriate treatment options for certain infants such as an anencephalic fetus, for whom all treatment would be expected to be futile, or the infant with Down's syndrome with only duodenal atresia, for whom surgical treatment would clearly be a benefit. However, the