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May 18, 1984

Of Beggars, Princes, and Islands

Author Affiliations

Newton, Mass

JAMA. 1984;251(19):2513. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340430019009

To the Editor.—  Why did the death by starvation of a tiny male infant afflicted with Down's syndrome and a defective esophagus so stir the soul of a nation? Why, too, have extensive national television, print media, and court attention been devoted to the question, "What are the basic human rights today of those born with physical or mental blemish?" Why also has the US Government through the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's Baby Doe rule warned institutions, parents, and/or physicians, who might believe a defective child better dead than treated with available ameliorative and life-saving treatment? No prince or princess the piteous, now dead, baby boy Doe of Bloomington, Ind, and baby girl Doe, still clinging to life in a New York hospital, but beggars yes. They call out to each of us for compassionate concern and consideration of the great issues embodied in their tiny beings.The