Abuser of Near-Euthanasia Victim Haleigh Poutre Jailed as She Recovers

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abuser of Near-Euthanasia Victim Haleigh Poutre Jailed as She Recovers

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 7
, 2009

Boston, MA (LifeNews.com) — Haleigh Poutre, the girl who almost became a victim of euthanasia, has lived long enough to see her step-father and abuser Jason Strickland, jailed for more than twelve years. Poutre was the victim of child abuse and was nearly killed when Massachusetts officials gave up on her after she entered a coma.

Boston media report that a judge sentenced Strickland to 12 to 15 years in state prison for participating in the abuse.

Hampden Superior Court Judge Judd Carhart, who handed down the decision in December, characterized Strickland’s actions as a "horrific pattern of child abuse."

The sentence came three years after the case drew national attention when state officials tried to receive permission from the courts to take Poutre’s life. The young girl eventually responded to doctors just as the permission to end her life was about to be received.

Stet officials called Poutre, once termed "brain dead" by doctors, "hopeless" but now she continues to improve and a new video in November showed her making amazing progress.

"And therein lies a terrible irony," Wesley J. Smith responded. "Had Massachusetts finished Haleigh off–which is what the state would, in effect, have been doing by removing her feeding tube–Strickland might have been punished for murder."

Just six days after the Massachusetts Department of Social Services took custody of Haleigh, it asked Juvenile Court Judge James G. Collins for permission to remove her feeding tube and ventilator. Collins gave them the okay.

"The state’s action, taken to cause her death, would have been merely described as a sad but necessary example of medical ethics," Smith said.

David Andrusko, the editor of NRL News, the publication of the National Right to Life Committee, also commented on the news and said justice in her case doesn’t mitigate the tragedy.

He also noticed the apparent contradiction.

"The irony is that the only reason she had remained on life support was because of Jason Strickland’s appeals," he said.

He called Poutre’s story one of "almost soul-crushing brutality and callousness saved from utter disaster because Haleigh began to respond just in the nick of time."

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

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