Comment on “Science and Controversy in the History of Infancy in America”

  • Alan J. Weisbard
Part of the Contemporary Issues in Biomedicine, Ethics, and Society book series (CIBES)


I write here not as a representative of a humanistic discipline as usually defined, but as a lawyer whose scholarly work and prior experience with the staff of the President’s Commission on Ethics in Medicine and Research have focused, in part, on the legal and public policy dimensions of the care of imperiled newborns. What I hope to do in these comments is to make somewhat more explicit several possible implications of Professor Kett’s historical findings for contemporary discussion of social policy and legal interventions in this area. I will try to satisfy the commentator’s obligation to be at least a bit provocative in the process.


Moral Judgment Supra Note Humanitarian Concern Hastings Center Report Unwed Motherhood 
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  1. 1.
    Raymond S. Duff and A. G. M. Campbell, “Moral and Ethical Dilemmas in the Special Care Nursery,” 289 New Engl. J. Med. 890 (1973).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Judicial Council of the American Medical Association, Current Opinions, section 2.10, Chicago (1982).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See, e.g., “Treating the Defective Newborn: A Survey of Physicians’ Attitudes,” 6 Hastings Center Report 2 (April 1976); Anthony Shaw et al., “Ethical Issues in Pediatric Surgery: A National Survey of Pediatricians and Pediatric Surgeons,” 60 Pediatrics 588 (Supp. 1977); David Todres et al., “Pediatricians’ Attitudes Affecting Decision-Making in Defective Newborns,” 60 Pediatrics 197 (1977).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research, Deciding to Forego Life-Sustaining Treatment: A Report on the Ethical, Medical and Legal Issues in Treatment Decisions, Washington, DC (1983). See especially Chapter 6: “Seriously Ill Newborns,” pp. 197–229.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See Todres et al., supra note 3.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    410 US 113 (1973).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Id. p. 154.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Id. p. 153.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See especially the work of philosophers Peter Singer and Michael Tooley.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    New York Times (April 2, 1983), p. 18.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Humana Press Inc. 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan J. Weisbard

There are no affiliations available

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