The Baby Doe Rules and Texas’s 'Futility Law' in the NICU

15 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2010 Last revised: 11 Jan 2011

See all articles by Thomas William Mayo

Thomas William Mayo

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Date Written: February 17, 2010


The applicability in the NICU of the futility provision of Texas's Advance Directives Act and its relationship to the Baby Doe rules are reasonably straightforward. Nonetheless, many comments have been written about Texas's so-called “futility law,” some of them complimentary and others, not so much. The most serious critiques of the Texas futility provision, however, are based upon assumptions that result from a fundamental misreading of the law. After a brief discussion of the futility provision and its principal features, this Essay examines the misunderstandings that plague many critiques of the law and then offers a list of proposed amendments to the law that address some of the actual deficiencies in the futility provision.

Keywords: end-of-life treatment, Baby Doe rule, medical futility, death and dying

JEL Classification: I18, K13, K32, K41, K49

Suggested Citation

Mayo, Thomas William, The Baby Doe Rules and Texas’s 'Futility Law' in the NICU (February 17, 2010). Georgia State University Law Review, Vol. 25, No. 4, 2009, SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 54, Available at SSRN:

Thomas William Mayo (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States
214-768-3767 (Phone)
214-768-4330 (Fax)


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