Human Exceptionalism

A New “Haleigh Poutre” in Texas?

SHS’s good friend, attorney Jerri Ward, is gearing up to fight a case in Texas that is eerily reminiscent of the Haleigh Poutre case. An attorney ad litem for a terribly abused baby named David Coronado Jr., wanted to stop all treatment because the baby is expected to remain profoundly cognitively disabled. From the story:

The fate of a brain-damaged 6-month-old Dallas boy is uncertain after his court-appointed attorney on Tuesday withdrew a motion to let doctors take the baby off life support…The baby’s attorney ad litem, Holly Schreier, told a juvenile district court judge that doctors at Children’s Medical Center Dallas had assessed a change in the baby’s condition. She did not say what the change was, and she did not return a call for comment.

A doctor reported in December that he expected David to suffer severe disabilities if he survived. It is unclear if doctors now expect the baby to remain in a vegetative or minimally conscious state. Meanwhile, word of the possible hearing on withdrawing the child’s life support had spread over the weekend among right-to-life and disabilities-rights groups, at least one of which readied attorneys to intervene Tuesday morning. “Brains are very resilient, and in a 6-month-old baby, to conclude that he’s neurologically devastated and is going to stay permanently that way I think is irresponsible,” said Jerri Lynn Ward, an attorney representing Not Dead Yet, a disabilities-rights group.

A few points: First, the child was only injured last month. What’s the rush? Second: It is wrong for a guardian to want her ward dead “in his best interests” because he is expected to be seriously disabled if he survives. The message of that decision is stark: his death is better than living with serious disabilities–which I don’t think a guardian should be allowed by law to assume.

We saw this same rush to remove treatment and “death is better than profoundly disabled” kind of thinking in Haleigh’s case. But for the time it took to get the Supreme Court’s approval for the dehydration, Haleigh would be dead today instead of in rehabilitation and going to school. Good grief! Do we never learn?

Hopefully, this will be the end of the matter and the baby will receive proper care. If not, I will comment about it here.

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