Maine agency wants to let abused child die

State fighting mother’s attempts to save life of baby reportedly shaken by father
Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Attorney sound bites:  Steven H. Aden #1  |  Steven H. Aden #2

PORTLAND, Maine – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in support of a mother pleading with the state for her child’s life after the father allegedly shook her and caused significant injury. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services is fighting the mother in court because she wants to give the baby a fighting chance to live while the state wants to hasten her death by withdrawing critical life support.

ADF attorneys filed the brief in the case In re A.P. on behalf of Christian Civic League of Maine, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, Concerned Women for America, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

“Everyone deserves a fighting chance to live. All this mother is doing is fighting for that chance for her baby,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “This mother’s parental rights should not be ignored; no one has the authority to deny her the right to save her daughter’s life.”

The father, who has been indicted on charged of aggravated assault, originally told authorities he had dropped the six-month-old girl while the mother wasn’t home but later admitted to shaking the baby. Because doctors told the parents at one point that the child, who went into a coma, could die within minutes, they agreed to a “do not resuscitate” order.

Hospital staff placed the child in the mother’s arms to die, but the child continued to breathe on her own and opened her eyes. After days went by in this fashion, the parents cancelled the DNR order, and the child later came out of the coma and became alert. Despite this, medical personnel wanted to reinstate the DNR order because they said the baby’s condition was still grave, but the parents would not agree.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services then sought and obtained authority from a state judge to implement the DNR order, contrary to the parents’ wishes and without terminating the mother’s parental rights. The judge concluded that it would be in A.P.’s “best interest” to endure “a cascading series of events that would inevitably lead to her death.”

“Even when a State agency believes the parent’s decision to be incorrect, that does not permit it to interfere in the parent’s right to make medical decisions for her child…,” the ADF brief contends, adding that “if the lower court’s ruling is allowed to stand, A.P.’s institutional physicians will medicate her as desired under the DNR, and she may in fact require resuscitation – but then she will not be treated due to the DNR, and thus she will die – and her mother’s parental rights would be de facto and irrevocably terminated in one of the cruelest ways imaginable.”

“The state is effectively arguing that this mom isn’t fit to make medical decisions for her child simply because she wants the child to live,” Aden explained. “No one has declared this mother an unfit parent, yet the government wants to take her place. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court should reaffirm Mainers’ interest in life, parental rights, and the integrity of the medical profession by reversing the lower court and restoring this mom’s full rights to make medical decisions on her daughter’s behalf.”

Attorney David P. Crocker, one of nearly 2,500 attorney allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel on behalf of the groups filing the friend-of-the-court brief.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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