Massachusetts Girl Haleigh Poutre, Near Victim of Euthanasia, Talking More

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 29, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Massachusetts Girl Haleigh Poutre, Near Victim of Euthanasia, Talking More Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 29
, 2008

Boston, MA ( — Haleigh Poutre nearly became a victim of euthanasia when doctors gave up hope on her after she entered a coma and state officials, who had custody, petitioned a court to let them take her life. Poutre showed unmistakable signs of consciousness just prior to her possible euthanasia and now the young girl is talking more about what happened.

The Massachusetts Department of Social Services eventually took 14-year-old Poutre into custody after she was hurt in a case of child abuse.

When she appeared to slip into a coma, the agency asked the state Supreme Court for permission to take her life.

Doctors declared Haleigh "brain dead" and in a permanent vegetative state but that’s when Poutre began responding.

She began to interact with people and now, according to the Republican newspaper, is talking more.

Information about Poutre’s condition has been sparse over the last 18 months and the last details had her at Franciscan Hospital for Children in Boston getting rehabilitative care.

Poutre’s biological mother, Allison Avrett, who also has abused Haleigh, wouldn’t talk with the newspaper about her current condition.

At the time she was initially hospitalized, DSS had argued Poutre had "the least amount of brain function that a person can have and still be considered alive." State officials later said that a brain injury and stroke left "the child [with] no hope of any meaningful recovery."

Noted attorney and bioethics watchdog Wesley Smith says Poutre’s is another case where a life and death decision is made based on a quality of life ethic.

"Accepting the ‘quality of life ethic,’ which is promoted so heavily among bioethicists, led to the Department of Social Services and the Supreme Court of Massachusetts to approve taking a little girl’s food and water away," he said.

"No thanks to them, she lives, is in rehab, and apparently is talking," he added.

Meanwhile, investigators have learned more information from Poutre about her step-father, Jason D. Strickland, who has been charged with assaulting the girl. Poutre apparently has confirmed that Strickland abused her and is providing more details.