The Baby Doe Rules (1984)
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The Baby Doe Rules represent the first attempt by the US government to directly intervene in treatment options for neonates born with congenital defects. The name of the rule comes from the controversial 1982 case of a Bloomington, Indiana infant Baby Doe, a name coined by the media. The Baby Doe Rules mandate that, as a requirement for federal funding, hospitals and physicians must provide maximal care to any impaired infant, unless select exceptions are met. If a physician or parent chooses to withhold full treatment when the exceptions are not met, they are liable for medical neglect. After a prolonged legal battle, President Ronald Reagan signed the law on 9 October 1984 as an amendment to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) of 1974. Since then, the Baby Doe Rules have influenced both the parents' right to make medical decisions for their child and the way laws can affect treatment options in the US.