Terri's Watch: Haleigh Poutre


The little girl you see pictured is Haleigh Poutre. She was born on February 24, 1994. He life has been a living hell ever since.

In September 2005, she was admitted to the hospital with life threatening brain injuries. Her brain was bleeding. Violent trauma to her head had caused a sheared brain stem. The treating physicians said the results of the beating she had endured constituted "irreparable damage". Haleigh was diagnosed in what is now routinely called “PVS”, an acronym for a “Persistent Vegetative State”. Many of us heard this term used in the case of Terri Schiavo.

The injuries were allegedly inflicted upon Haleigh by a baseball bat wielded by her own stepfather.

Much like Terri, Haleigh was being given food and water through a feeding and hydration tube. A year later, the Massachusetts Department of Social Services filed a legal motion to remove it. They cited the medical finding of “PVS”. Her stepfather then sued to prevent the removal of the assistance. There was speculation in some sources that he did this to avoid criminal charges for murder. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the assistance could be removed in a controversial ruling.

So the death warrant was signed for this little girl. However, Haleigh surprised all of her caregivers by breathing without the need for assistance and showing signs of communication. The court order was rescinded and the medical team continued to care for Haleigh. That was in 2006. Now, two years later, Haleigh may be called as a witness in the retrial of her stepfather’s case. He is on trial for assault and battery on a child with a dangerous weapon. Haleigh continues to recover. She now communicates through hand signals and a computer keyboard. So much for PVS!

One study from the British Medical Journal found that 43% of those diagnosed with PVS were actually misdiagnosed. Among that number some had been in this “PVS state” for over a year. The context within which such end of life decisions are being made should cause all Pro-Life persons deep concern. This is not a mere flawed medical issue. It goes much deeper. It's a reflection of our culture that fails to respect and value human life. It's the same reason why a man who was to love and care for this little girl, took a baseball bat to her head. He valued her life about as much as the courts did.

What have we become? The so called "experts" are no longer are sure when life begins or when it ends. The time in between, we place little value on life.

These are not just tragic stories. I believe they are a wake up call for all of us. If a women murdered in her hospital bed and a little girl who proved the world wrong don't cause you to pause a moment and ask some tough questions about life ..... well then guess who is the one in a persistent vegetative state?