Medicine: The Stormy Legacy of Baby Doe

Should the Government try to save severely afflicted infants?

On April 9, 1982, an infant who became known to the world only as Baby Doe was born in Bloomington, Ind. He had an incomplete esophagus and Down's syndrome, which causes moderate to severe mental retardation. Thanks to advances in neonatal medicine, surgeons could ensure Baby Doe's survival by attaching his esophagus to his stomach, but nothing could be done to prevent retardation. His parents were confronted with an agonizing dilemma: to assent to an operation that would save the life of a child who...

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