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.
In 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.
Video: CNN Special Assignment: "Oklahoma Infanticide"
The language included In these videos is now outdated and considered offensive. However, at the time, the language was acceptable and is retained here because of the historical context of these videos and their historical significance.