Disability Rights Group Wants Probe in Haleigh Poutre Euthanasia Case

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 6, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Disability Rights Group Wants Probe in Haleigh Poutre Euthanasia Case Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 6, 2006

Boston, MA (LifeNews.com) — A leading national disability rights group is calling for a probe into the case of Haleigh Poutre, an 11 year-old girl who was incapacitated after repeated abuse by her step parents and who courts granted state officials the ability to euthanize her.

The court order came just days after she was admitted to Massachusetts’ Baystate Medical Center with a severe brain injury.

Now, Poutre is responsive and interactive four months after having been declared "brain dead" from a supposedly irreversible coma.

Diane Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet, said the girl would be dead by now if not for the appeal of the court’s decision. State officials have also agreed to hold off on ending Poutre’s life while they figure out what happened and Gov. Mitt Romney also wants an investigation.

Coleman’s group wants to know why doctors at Baystate Medical could be so wrong in their "arrogant and hasty diagnosis" that Haleigh had "no chance of recovering cognitive or sensate functioning," and that she "cannot hear, feel, or respond."

"These doctors must answer to charges of incompetence and negligence," she said and wants to know whether they have withdrawn life support in similar circumstances in the past for other patients.

Coleman also questioned medical tests designed to determine responsiveness.

"These tests are obviously fatally flawed, and must not be read prognostically," she explained.

Coleman said doctors should not have been so hasty in writing off Poutre’s chances. She cited brain trauma specialist Dr. Douglas Katz of Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital who recently said, "I wouldn’t give up before a year."

She wants to know if disabled patients can expect doctors to give up on further treatment after just eight days of hospitalization. She is upset that "this rush to withdraw life support from brain injured patients is now accepted medical practice."

Not Dead Yet is the national disability rights organization that leads the disability community’s opposition to legalized assisted suicide, euthanasia and other forms of medical killings.