The governor of the state of Maine is vowing to protect a little baby whose life is at stake and who state officials wanted to kill by putting a DNR order in place without her parents’ consent.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in support of a mother pleading with the state for her child’s life after the father allegedly shook her and caused significant injury. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is fighting the mother in court because she wants to give the baby a fighting chance to live while the state wants to hasten her death by withdrawing critical life support.
The father, who has been indicted on charged of aggravated assault, originally told authorities he had dropped the six-month-old girl while the mother, Virginia Trask, wasn’t home but later admitted to shaking the baby. Because doctors told the parents at one point that the child, who went into a coma, could die within minutes, they agreed to a “do not resuscitate” order.
Hospital staff placed the child in the mother’s arms to die, but the child continued to breathe on her own and opened her eyes. After days went by in this fashion, the parents cancelled the DNR order, and the child later came out of the coma and became alert. Despite this, medical personnel wanted to reinstate the DNR order because they said the baby’s condition was still grave, but the parents would not agree.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services then sought and obtained authority from a state judge to implement the DNR order, contrary to the parents’ wishes and without terminating the mother’s parental rights. The judge concluded that it would be in A.P.’s “best interest” to endure “a cascading series of events that would inevitably lead to her death.”
State child welfare officials, who had taken temporary custody of the baby due to alleged abuse, refused, convincing an Augusta District Court judge that “neither parent can be counted on to be physically or emotionally available to make the necessary informed decision when needed.”
Now, Trask’s legal team, including attorney Scott Hess and advocacy groups who have submitted briefs in support of her. is preparing for an appeal before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, with oral arguments set for Sept. 23. And they may not be able to lose, after LePage told FoxNews.com he will not allow state child welfare officials to usurp a parent’s rights regardless of what either court says.
“This case is disturbing and is not reflective of my administration’s position that a parent who is the legal guardian of their child should have final say in medical decisions about life-sustaining treatment,” said LePage. “The existing law violates the sanctity of parental rights, and I cannot support it. Unless a parent is deemed unfit and parental rights are severed, the state should not override a parent’s right to make medical decisions for their own child.”
Aleah is in foster care and her current condition is unknown. Aleah’s father, Kevin Peaslee, is free on bail but barred from contact with Aleah and her mother and no longer involved in the DNR decision, his lawyer told The Kennebec Journal. If the child does die, charges against Peaslee could be upgraded, officials said.
Aleah was 6 months old when prosecutors say she was permanently blinded and suffered brain damage after being shaken by her father on Dec. 21 in an apartment in Augusta, Maine.
The girl, who suffered multifocal seizures during the incident, went into a “deep coma,” but attempts were made within days to remove her from a ventilator. Doctors then informed Aleah’s mother that she was “neurologically devastated” and would not recover, prompting the girl’s parents to agree to the DNR order, according to court documents.
Attorney David Crocker, who is serving as local counsel on behalf of the groups that filed the amicus brief, said the case centers around the question of who gets to make the ultimate decision regarding a child whose parent never lost their parental rights.
“Who gets to make these decisions?” Crocker told FoxNews.com. “The precise legal issue here is: Does the state get to make that kind of life-or-death decision when parental rights have not been formally terminated? That’s the $64,000 question.”
“Everyone deserves a fighting chance to live. All this mother is doing is fighting for that chance for her baby,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “This mother’s parental rights should not be ignored; no one has the authority to deny her the right to save her daughter’s life.”
“The state is effectively arguing that this mom isn’t fit to make medical decisions for her child simply because she wants the child to live,” Aden explained. “No one has declared this mother an unfit parent, yet the government wants to take her place. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court should reaffirm Mainers’ interest in life, parental rights, and the integrity of the medical profession by reversing the lower court and restoring this mom’s full rights to make medical decisions on her daughter’s behalf.”
LifeNews Note: File photo.