FIGHT FOR BABY’S LIFE Mom battles state order as child emerges from coma



A Maine mother is fighting in court to have a DNR order lifted from her brain damaged baby. (File photo)

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A teenage mother from Maine has the governor on her side in a legal
battle to keep her ailing baby alive, even though the state now has
custody and previously sought to enforce a “Do Not Resuscitate” order.

One-year-old Aleah Peaslee, who was left in a coma last December
after allegedly being shaken by her 21-year-old father, miraculously
emerged from the state not long after being placed in the arms of her
mother, Virginia Trask, according to court papers. But by then, Trask,
told by doctors the baby’s brain damage was severe, had signed off on a
DNR order and the baby had been taken into custody by the state due to
the alleged abuse at the hands of Kevin Peaslee.

What has ensued is a legal battle over who has the right to rescind
the order, the state or the parent. And although a state court ruled in
favor of the Maine Department of Health and Human Development, Gov. Paul
LePage made clear to FoxNews.com on Thursday that he will not allow
state bureaucrats to usurp a parent’s rights regardless of how the
appellate court, which has the case on its docket Sept. 23, comes down.

“This case is disturbing and is not reflective of my Administration’s
position that a parent who is the legal guardian of their child should
have final say in medical decisions about life-sustaining treatment,”
said LePage. “The existing law violates the sanctity of parental rights,
and I cannot support it.  Unless a parent is deemed unfit and parental
rights are severed, the state should not override a parent’s right to
make medical decisions for their own child.”

Trask already had a team of heavy hitters helping her appeal the
Maine District Court decision from earlier this year. Attorneys with the
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Portland and three other advocacy groups have filed friend-of-the-court
briefs arguing that state officials, who maintain temporary custody of
the baby, do not have the constitutional right to interfere with Trask’s
parental rights.

“This case is about fundamental rights: the right to live, and the right to parent,” the 25-page brief
from ADF states. “The Maine Constitution places great value on human
life, echoing the U.S. Declaration of Independence … and a long
tradition of U.S. Supreme Court and Maine State court precedent likewise
affirms the intrinsic right to parent.”

Aleah was 6 months old when prosecutors say she was permanently
blinded and suffered brain damage after being shaken by her father,
Kevin Peaslee, on Dec. 21 in an apartment in Augusta, Maine. Peaslee, of
Windsor, later pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault after being
indicted by a Kennebec County grand jury.

The girl, who suffered multifocal seizures during the incident, went
into a “deep coma,” but attempts were made within days to remove her
from a ventilator. Doctors then informed Aleah’s mother that she was
“neurologically devastated” and would not recover, prompting the girl’s
parents to agree to a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) order, according to
court documents.

But the girl’s condition improved after she was placed in her
mother’s arms to die, eventually recovering to breathe on her own.
Within days, the girl’s parents sought to cancel the DNR order, but
medical providers refused, citing her still-grave condition. The Maine
Department of Health and Human Development took immediate custody of the
baby due to the fact she allegedly had been abused by a parent.

Attorney David Crocker, who is serving as local counsel on behalf of
the groups that filed the amicus brief, said the case centers around the
question of who gets to make the ultimate decision regarding a child
whose parent never technically lost their parental rights.

“Who gets to make these decisions?” Crocker told FoxNews.com. “The
precise legal issue here is: Does the state get to make that kind of
life-or-death decision when parental rights have not been formally
terminated? That’s the $64,000 question.”

Although the case is still on the docket, a state spokesman said.

State child welfare officials did not confer with the Attorney
General’s office before contesting Trask’s claim of the right to rescind
the DNR order. LePage has ordered a full review of the state’s legal
options in the case.

But Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew
left no doubt that LePage’s wishes will be followed in the case.

“If the higher court upholds the previous decision that a parent’s
rights can be overridden by the Department, this administration will not
exercise that misplaced authority,” Mayhew said. “The Department of
Health and Human Service remains firmly committed to due process in any
case where the rights of a parent are in question.”

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2 Comments on "FIGHT FOR BABY’S LIFE Mom battles state order as child emerges from coma"

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Nkwazema
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let them settle things amicably

CHILOVE
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may God deliver him from this coma

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