The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Promoting Independence, Productivity, Self-Determination, Integration and Inclusion
MNDisability.gov
The ADA Legacy Project

Moments in Disability History 5

"ADA and Baby Doe"

Prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in hospitals around the country, doctors and parents decided against life-saving treatment, even routine medical care, for certain infants with physical or suspected intellectual disabilities. Consequently, each year hundreds, if not thousands, of newborns, who might otherwise have lived with disabilities, were allowed to die.

Baby Doe's MotherCarlton SherwoodIn 1971, the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, in cooperation with Johns Hopkins Hospital, created the film "Who Should Survive" in the hope that it would stimulate thinking and discussion about this matter of life and death. However, thirteen years later, in 1984, Carlton Sherwood, CNN Reporter for CNN Special Assignment, documented in "Oklahoma Infanticide" the lack of medical treatment for babies born with spina bifida in Oklahoma.

"Who Should Survive" and the three part series "Oklahoma Infanticide" revealed that the civil rights protections under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act against withholding care based on a child's sex, race, or disability were not enough.

These videos are a reminder about the importance of maintaining and advancing the ADA.

Video: "Who Should Survive" by Guggenheim Productions, Inc.
http://www.mnddc.org/ada-legacy/who-should-survive.html

Video:CNN Special Assignment: "Oklahoma Infanticide"
http://www.mnddc.org/honoring-choices/cnnReports/cnnReportsPt1.html

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.