Weber v. Stony Brook Hospital (1983)
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The New York Court of Appeals' 1983 case Weber v. Stony Brook set an important precedent upholding the right of parents to make medical decisions for newborns born with severe congenital defects. A pro-life New York attorney, Lawrence Washburn, attempted to legally intervene in the case of Baby Jane Doe, an infant born with disorders. When the infant's parents chose palliative care over intensive corrective surgery, Washburn made repeated attempts to have the New York courts force through the surgery. The Court of Appeals ultimately ruled not only that Washburn had overstepped his authority, but also that the parents' decision was a medically and legally valid one. The Weber case set an important standard for protecting the rights of parents and limiting the rights of government to make medical decisions for infants with severe congenital defects.