Court Favors Euthanasia for Massachusetts Girl, Though She’s Doing Better

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 19, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Court Favors Euthanasia for Massachusetts Girl, Though She’s Doing Better Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 19, 2006

Boston, MA ( — The Massachusetts state Supreme Court has ruled that a hospital can end the life of a badly abused 11 year-old girl, even though she is doing better and beginning to respond to stimuli.

Haleigh Poutre was abused by her birthmother and placed in a foster care home with her adoptive mother and stepfather. The allegedly beat her nearly to death with a baseball bat, in what left Poutre in a comatose state.

Poutre was placed in state custody and state officials eventually decided she should be taken off life support. Though he had abused her, Poutre’s stepfather Jason Strickland fought the decision.

The state Supreme Court ruled that allowing Strickland to fight the decision is "unthinkable" and it approved the euthanasia of Haleigh.

But now, news reports indicate the little girl is progressing.

Just one day after the ruling, Haleigh began breathing on her own and responding to medical stimuli.

Denise Monteiro, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Social Services, told the Associated Press that doctors will conduct tests to see if she is truly progressing, which may change the situation.

"There’s a possible change in her condition," Monteiro said Wednesday. "She’s having some responses."

She confirmed to the Boston Globe Wednesday that the state does not yet plan to go through with removing her feeding tube.

Strickland’s attorney John Egan told AP that he may bring the case to federal courts.

"This is exactly the point we were trying to make. What’s the rush? Just give her a chance," attorney John Egan said. "Medical science is not that certain. We would hope the whole process will slow down, and everyone will step back and end the compulsion to end her life."

Related news stories:
Eleven Year-Old Child Abuse Victim Next Subject of Euthanasia Debate