Haleigh Poutre Testifies About Abuse After Nearly Becoming Euthanasia Victim

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 1, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Haleigh Poutre Testifies About Abuse After Nearly Becoming Euthanasia Victim

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 1
, 2008

Boston, MA (LifeNews.com) — A young girl who doctors claimed was in a vegetative state after she was abused by her adoptive parents has made such a strong recovery she has been able to tell officials more about the problems. One bioethicist says there are lessons to be learned about writing off patients who are supposedly too far gone.

After 14-year-old Haleigh Poutre was viciously abused, she had to be admitted to a pediatric rehabilitation hospital in September 2005.

Massachusetts officials eventually took custody of her and physicians indicated Poutre had entered into a coma.

State officials asked the Massachusetts Supreme Court for permission to remove Poutre’s feeding tube and end her life as Terri Schiavo’s ex-husband was allowed to do.

However, new reports indicate Poutre made such a strong recovery she was able to testify about the abuse in court in December. The Boston Globe indicated she used simple words and hand gestures along with pointing to letters and words to indicate what had happened to her.

Bioethics watchdog Wesley Smith says the media needs to do a better job reporting on how doctors got their assessment of Poutre’s condition wrong and how that may be the case with other patients like Schiavo.

"There is a huge lesson to be learned in this story, but we won’t learn it and the media won’t highlight the issue — lest we come to the ‘wrong conclusion’ about Terri Schiavo," he said.

He said Haleigh’s ability to tell the court what happened to her so prosecutors could move ahead with the case is "Not bad for a little girl who was supposed to remain forever unaware."

"I hope judges and doctors will ponder this story next time a dehydration request is made on the basis that a cognitively disabled patient — particularly a young one — will never improve or whenever hospital ethics committees try to impose futile care treatment terminations," he said.

Smith concluded: "As that great philosopher Yogi Berra once said, ‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over.’"

Meanwhile, Haleigh’s sister, Samantha Poutre, has given investigators more information about what happened and indicated Poutre’s stepfather Jason Strickland kicked Haleigh down a flight of stairs.