Haleigh Poutre and the Sanctity of Life

by Sal on November 20, 2008

in Culture,Judicial Watch

Two years ago on these pages, I followed the remarkable story here in Massachusetts of young Haleigh Poutre.  A victim of abuse, she ended up on a feeding tube and breathing machine.  Doctors diagnosed her as being in a persistent vegetative state, and unable to recover.  The state wanted to bring murder charges against her father, so they pushed to have her removed from the ventalator and end her life.  After a long court battle, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court agreed.

Remarkably, a day after the decision, young Haleigh started breathing on her own.  Doctors began to question the initial diagnosis (leading me and many others to question the whole concept of persistent vegetative state).  A month later, she was responding to simple commands, and declared to be in a “Minimally Conscious State”.  It was argued:

Some neurologists say Haleigh’s actions suggest she may have moved into a ”minimally conscious state,” in which patients are aware of their surroundings and can respond to commands.

That condition could sometimes strengthen arguments to withdraw life support, because such patients can feel pain, some medical ethicists said. Patients in a vegetative state, on the other hand, are oblivious to the agony that is part of their life.

Yet the medical experts were wrong yet again!  Haleigh is now writing her own name, communicating, brushing her hair, and feeding herself!

This shows that one should always err on the side of life.  The government had written Haleigh off, and she proved them wrong.  How many others are out there, where hope remains?  Who is the state or anyone else to determine that this young girl had no value and should have her life ended for her?  Who knows how much potential she has to recover, and what kind of life she will lead?  This beautiful child is a wonderful example of the value of every human life, and how that life should always be cherished and respected.

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The Myth of the Persistent Vegetative State | Axis of Right
February 4, 2010 at 7:12 am

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rightonoz November 20, 2008 at 6:21 pm


Thanks so much for sharing this story. It is one of the all too few really amazing stories of survival against all reason.

I know I was amazed at the Florida decision some time back that seemed an obscene rush to end a life for the husband’s own reasons and nothing to do with the possibility that her parents were right and she could potentially have been responding.

I am on the other side of the fence to you on abortion rights, however firmly believe that you are correct on this one.

Doctors rush to end life too often. I don’t know exactly at what point in a pregnancy I would say no (week 21 some suggest), however am firmly of a view that past that point you do everything to protect and encourage life.

It saddens me immensly that this child was abused to such an extent to place her in this state, however hopefully she can now look forward to a life full of love and caring.

As a father of 6 adults and 4 1/2 grandchildren I never cease to be amazed by the glory of life. Holding my grandchildren (youngest 13 months) and seeing the smiles and feeling the trust is truly a wonder. That anyone could abuse or seek to shorten such a wonder is beyond belief. This video upset this toughened old fart immensly, but also filled me with wonder.

I say a wonder of nature, you would say of God (which view I truly respect), but either way doesn’t change the absolute wonder of such life and the joy it brings.

I can only hope the Jury does the right thing and he rots.. (after being proven guilty of course)

Once again, thanks Sal


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