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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Who will speak for Haleigh?

I can still remember the struggle to keep Terri Schiavo alive earlier this year. One issue of special concern was the motivation of her husband in seeking her death. In Boston, there is now another hard case that is similar to Terri's but with an even darker twist.

Haleigh Poutre is an 11 year old girl in a comotose state from which doctors assert she will never recover. She is currently in the custody of the Massachusettes Department of Social Services because her aunt, who had adopted her, has committed suicide. The DDS wants to remove Haleigh's feeding tube but is being opposed by Jason Strickland. Mr. Strickland lived with Haleigh and her aunt for four years and wishes to be declared Haleigh's de-facto father.

As one of Mr. Strickland's lawyers said, "Without the intervention of this court, this child will die."

The horrible twist in this case is that the reason Haleigh is in a coma is that she was severely beaten and Mr. Strickland has been accused of this terrible crime. Moreover, if Haleigh dies, Mr. Strickland will likely face charges of murder. [source]

Do we fight for Haleigh's right to live even if it benefits the one accused of abusing her? I think we do. A lawyer for the DDS has argued that this case is about allowing Haleigh to die. But no one can know Haleigh's wishes - especially a "wish to die". Indeed it would be better to say that the state wants to be allowed to do what Mr. Strickland stands accused of and failed.

One thing stands clear - Haleigh was betrayed once by the system that was supposed to protect her and it seems likely that she will be betrayed again.

I saw that Haleigh's biological mother is still alive. However, presumably, she renounced her parental rights when Haleigh was adopted by her aunt. Who will speak for Haleigh today?


Anonymous shana sfo said...

How horrible that our country, so blessed with riches & wealth, will deny someone life because of costs (merely using the guise "right to die") I hope someone will step up and give this child the right to life. May the Lord have mercy on us all, and lovingly bring us all to our knees in humility before Him.

We must pray, fast and do penance... continue to shout from the rooftops the message of Life from the Gospel.

Just be prepared for the rotten fruit that will be thrown at us.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Kevin Miller said...

I see from the article that she's on a ventilator. That suggests that this is at least somewhat different from the Schiavo case - if you need tube feeding PLUS a ventilator, the chances are greater that you're profoundly brain-injured - and a ventilator is more likely than tube feeding to be "disproportionately burdensome" (i.e. "extraordinary").

11:59 PM  
Anonymous shana sfo said...

On "profoundly brain injured"

It depends, really. A friend's brother got stoned & fell off a roof. Was in a coma on life support & fed through a tube - his family was told "He'll never come out of the coma." He did.

Then: "He'll always be on life support." He wasn't.

Then "He'll never be able to eat on his own." He does.

then: "He'll never be able to talk." He does.

Then: "He'll never walk." He does.

He is 38 now. Has some memory problems, but none of the dire predictions came to pass.

His 'permanent vegetative state' was not permanent. Its often hard to say for certain what healing a body is capable of, especially in neuroglocial trauma.

Now, I understand that there are times when life support is a burden because life is truly at an end and the life support interferes with that process. From this article, its not possible really to know. But every chance for life should be given, and never removed lightly. I'm suspicious because she's a ward of the state. The state is always looking at the bottom line.

2:11 PM  

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