Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Haleigh Poutre Continues to Improve


Last year, doctors wrote 12-year old Haleigh Poutre off as good as dead after she was beaten nearly to death, allegedly by her adoptive mother and step father. After only one week, they assumed she was in a PVS and urged the State of Massachusetts to dehydrate Haleigh to death. The State Supreme Court approved a few months later. Then, just before the dehydration was to commence, it became clear that Haleigh was not even unconscious and the dehydration was called off. At the time, I wrote about Haleigh's case here.

Since then, Haleigh has continued to improve, apparently, and now is even speaking a few words. But this is no thanks to the doctors or the courts, which are duty-bound to protect helpless children like Haleigh from harm, and failed her utterly.

This situation came very close to being an injustice of the most profound kind, and we would never have known it. One way to stop such cases in the future would be to pass laws like the proposed Nebraska Humane Care Amendment, that apparently barely failed to qualify for November's ballot. Had Massachusetts had such a law in place, doctors would have had no basis to urge the State to cut off her food and water based on projections of a poor quality of life, and the Department of Public Social Services could not have agreed. The courts would have had to refuse the dehydration request since it would have been designed to cause her death by withholding sustenance.

Protecting helpless children like Haleigh Poutre: Could there be a more important task for society? Laws similar to the Nebraska Humane Care Amendment could accomplish that worthy goal. And that is why those of us who were involved with the Amendment will continue work diligently toward creating such humane public policies throughout the country and internationally.


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