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Monday, January 23, 2006

Comatose Girl Breathing on Own May Still Be Dehydrated to Death

Hilary White

Court awaits further evidence of improvement

Since Terri Schiavo’s court-ordered, agonizing death by dehydration, the enthusiasm of euthanasia advocates has increased for using this painful method to kill patients dependent on feeding tubes. The latest case to make the news, is that of Haleigh Poutre, an 11-year-old girl admitted to the hospital in September 2005 with brain damage that left her dependent upon assisted respiration and feeding.

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Supreme Court allowed her doctors to stop the respirator. To the doctors’ surprise, Haleigh began to breathe on her own and started showing signs of coming out of the coma she had suffered for 4 months.

The Court, however, is not ruling out the possibility that Haleigh, now a ward of the state, can still be dehydrated to death. The Boston Globe said Wednesday that the court is deferring the decision to remove Haleigh’s feeding and hydration tube until further medical evidence has been established for her improvement.

Denise Monteiro, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Social Services, said, “There's a possible change in her condition. She's having some responses.”

Peg Whitbread, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life said, “It’s disturbing. The SJC is saying the state has a right to euthanize a severely disabled ward of the state.”

Mark Dupont, a spokesman for the Diocese of Springfield said, “We certainly share the concerns of many who feel the whole matter has been rushed.”

Her stepfather Jason Strickland and her aunt Holly Strickland, who adopted the girl, were charged with criminal assault for allegedly beating her with a baseball bat which resulted in her comatose state. Strickland, despite being charged in Haleigh’s abuse, has petitioned the department of social services to stop the decision to euthanize her.

  • (This article courtesy of

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