Haleigh Poutre Eating, Responding, Report Delayed in Euthanasia Probe

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 7, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Haleigh Poutre Eating, Responding, Report Delayed in Euthanasia Probe Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 7, 2006

Boston, MA (LifeNews.com) — Haleigh Poutre, the severely abused 12 year-old girl who Massachusetts officials tried to win court permission to euthanize is responding and eating solid food on her own. That’s according to a nurse who has been giving information to her birth mother, to the chagrin of the Department of Social Services.

Though she remains on a feeding tube, a nurse indicated Poutre is eating scrambled eggs and cream of wheat and has been able to tap out "drum rhythms’" during physical therapy sessions, according to a Boston Globe report.

Other reports indicate Poutre has been able to use hand signals to communicate, including holding up two fingers to indicate she wanted to see her younger sister. She plays with her mother and grandmother’s hair when they visit and rubs their faces.

Allison Avrett, Poutre’s biological mother who lost custody of her daughter after physical abuse, has apparently been getting updates from a nurse at the rehab hospital where Poutre was admitted.

The Globe reported that DSS officials have told the nurse to stop telling Avrett details about Poutre’s condition during her bi-weekly 15 minute visit with her.

”Silence and secrecy has been the most frustrating component of this case," Wendy Murphy, Avrett’s mother, told the Globe. ”It just seems inhumane that information about this child can be forbidden on the theory that it’s somehow protecting her privacy, when you consider that this child almost died under the state’s care."

DSS allowed the visits starting last fall under condition that her mother not receive information about her condition.

Murphy says she will be filing a motion on Tuesday in the Hampden Juvenile Court to allow Avrett to be involved in future judicial proceedings about her daughter. She said Avrett also wants access to medical records, longer and more frequent visits and to have some say in Poutre’s future.

The Globe reports Poutre clutches her mother’s hand tightly when the 15 minutes are up and she has to leave.

After Avrett lost custody, Poutre was put into a foster home where her adoptive parents also abused her. Her adopted mother committed suicide after abusing Poutre so much she had to be hospitalized.

DSS took Poutre into custody and when she appeared to slip into a coma, the agency asked the state Supreme Court for permission to take her life. That’s when Poutre began responding.

Poutre has been receiving physical, speech and occupational therapy since January 26 at Franciscan Hospital for Children in Brighton.

Gov. Mitt Romney appointed a commission to look into how the state failed to properly handle the girl’s case. That report was supposed to be due Monday but Romney granted a two week extension because so much time is needed to cover the complex case.