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The C. Everett Koop Papers

Letter from C. Everett Koop to R. B. Zachary pdf (154,340 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from C. Everett Koop to R. B. Zachary
Number of Image Pages:
2 (154,340 Bytes)
1984-12-12 (December 12, 1984)
Koop, C. Everett
Zachary, R. B.
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Child Abuse
Disabled Children
Ethics, Medical
Refusal to Treat
Exhibit Category:
Congenital Birth Defects and the Medical Rights of Children: The "Baby Doe" Controversy
Box Number:
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Sequential Files
SubSeries: December 1982
Dec 12 1984
Dear Bob,
First of all, greetings of this marvelous season to you and Win. Betty and I are very happy for you both.
My appointment runs until November 17, 1975. Those who tried so hard to keep me out of office got me an extra year! I would love to be reappointed at that time and at least stay in as long as the President does until the end of 1988. I know I will never retire and I can't think of a job in which I would be more productive and happy.
You will be interested to know that all of our efforts about Baby Doe and the regulations that were written, based upon Civil Rights Legislation, were eventually struck down in the courts and we were for a time without protection for these infants. Then, due to two years of education in the press whether they wanted it or not, Congress reacted. First, in the Congress and then in the Senate, bills were drawn up in the form of amendments to the new Child Abuse Legislation, which put the responsibility for monitoring and enforcement not on the Federal Government, but on the individual states.
After a conference between both Houses of Congress, a compromise was reached and the President signed the bill into law on October 9th, which called for the writing of regulations on definitions of handicapped newborns, as well as a new definition to be included on Child Abuse, namely, "the withholding of medically beneficial treatment (including nutrition, hydration, and medication) from handicapped newborns". I was the in-house expert on the language and the regulations having to do with these amendments and was given the complete responsibility for writing the guidelines for infant care review committees to be established voluntarily in hospitals to get a better forum in which these things might be discussed and, therefore, not railroaded through without some competent understanding and compassionate people having an influence. They now go out for comment and will be rewritten and then will become law. I will send you a copy to skim under separate cover. (Copy has been sent.)
On my return trip from Israel recently, I stopped in Manchester and gave an Honor Lecture on Pediatrics and then sat on a panel in reference to Baby Doe to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Manchester Medical Society. I was up against people of totally opposite convictions, but did have the satisfaction of having a number of people say such things to me as "You are nothing like you are represented in the press" or "I'm so glad to hear the truth about Baby Doe". I took off, among other things after Michael O'Donnell who had written such a biased, prejudiced and totally inaccurate piece in the British Medical Journal.
I don't hear much from my European colleagues, but do know that Michael Carcasonne is well and that Peter Rickham, apparently, is not. Peter is completely retired and Michelle is most discouraged about the effect of communism on the practice of medicine in France.
Betty sends her love and will write in the New Year.
Sincerely yours,
C. Everett Koop, M.D.
Surgeon General
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