Indeed, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, which had fought the Baby Doe rules, issued policies calling for equal treatment of newborns regardless of disability and low quality of life and recommended the use of institutional ethics committees to review contested Cases.
Although the Baby Doe rules included review by "infant care review committees," none was used in the Miller case.
Growing out of a widely publicized Indiana case in which a "Baby Doe" with Down syndrome died after a trial court declined to order an operation to correct an intestinal blockage, the original 1983 federal Baby Doe rules forbade health care providers that received federal funds (including Medicare and Medicaid) to withhold life-sustaining treatment from infants "solely by reason of [their] handicap." The Supreme Court found these regulations not to be authorized by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 under which they had been promulgated.
But neither logic nor policy supports the conclusion that when the treating physician believes that treatment is virtually futile and inhumane, the Baby Doe rules "stipulate" that the provider has no obligation to honor parental instructions to continue treatment.
Consider the stories that pop up on my computer as generating the most attention through that decade: test tube babies; the birth of Louise Brown--I'm cheating a bit here because that was 1978, but that's really where I think you see a big wave of media attention and public dialogue about developments in medicine--Baby Fay; the artificial heart; Baby Doe, Baby Jane Doe and the Baby Doe Rules
; and, at the end of the decade, Cruzan.
Miller, "The Baby Doe Rules
: Can They Be Met?" Bioethics Reporter 1 (1984), 45-48.