Human Exceptionalism

Instead of Being Dehydrated to Death, Abused Girl Helps Police

There is a huge lesson to be learned in this story, but we won’t learn it and the media won’t highlight the issue–lest we come to the “wrong conclusion” about Terri Schiavo. Haleigh Poutre, who doctors swore would never recover, and state bureaucrats consigned to dehydration–with the approval of the Massachusetts Supreme Court–testified in court about the abuse that led to her disability. From the story:

Communicating with simple words and hand gestures and by spelling out full sentences by pointing to alphabet letters on a board Haleigh in December described to police the intense physical abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her adoptive mother and stepfather, Holli and Jason Strickland, The Boston Globe reported on Tuesday.

Not bad for a little girl who was supposed to remain forever unaware.

I hope judges and doctors will ponder this story next time a dehydration request is made on the basis that a cognitively disabled patient–particularly a young one–will never improve or whenever hospital ethics committees try to impose futile care treatment terminations. As that great philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.”