Wednesday, January 18, 2006


SJC says life support can end for alleged beating victim, 11

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled yesterday that life-support systems for an 11-year-old Westfield girl can be removed, saying that the child, who has been in a vegetative state since an alleged beating by her adoptive mother and stepfather, should be able to ''pass away with dignity."

The state's highest court unanimously rejected an appeal by the stepfather of Haleigh Poutre to keep the girl alive, saying it was ''unthinkable" to give him a voice in her care, because of his alleged role in her beating and the potential murder charges he faces if she dies.

The decision, written by Justice John M. Greaney, chronicled how the girl's many bruises and burns over the last few years were reported more than a dozen times to child-protection officials, who often misidentified the injuries as self-inflicted or common childhood mishaps.

In language that showed their belief that Haleigh's life is already over, the court referred to a larger message that can be taken from her brief life.

It's not hard to decide that an alleged murderer has no right to keep the victim alive to avoid murder charges. However, since we have a very progressive court in Massachusetts (almost all appointed by our Republican governors, Weld and Cellucci) it is likely that any right-to-die case would have a similar outcome. We're big on those old-time American values here, freedom and liberty.

The Globe also provides a comparison of Haleigh Poutre's case with the Schiavo case:

Two cases put spotlight on end-of-life decisions

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