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Should the Court Issue a DNR Order for a Child?
When, if ever, should the court trump the decision making authority of a parent when it comes time to the health and welfare of a child? Some say never, but others say only when the best interests of the child are at stake.
The legal authority of the court to make medical decisions for a child is a gray area when it comes to the welfare of a child, especially if the parent’s actions towards the child are questionable.
A horrifying example of this gray area comes as a teenage mother fights a do-not-resuscitate order imposed by a Main court on her brain-damaged one-year old daughter. The mother, Virginia Trask, 18, claims she should be responsible for medical decisions for her child. However, child welfare officials who intervened after the baby was severely injured in December at the hands of her father said lifesaving measures would only prolong her suffering.
The prosecutor said the baby, Aleah Peaslee, was 6 months old when her father, Kevin Peaslee, 22, shook her while Ms. Trask was at work. The girl, who is now in foster care, experienced profound injuries that have left her a spastic quadriplegic who cannot see or hear and who relies on a feeding tube for nutrition. The child welfare officials claim that the child will never advance beyond “an early infantile level,” cannot suck or swallow and exhibits a high pitched, “neurological cry” that suggests she is in intense pain. The child welfare officials believe that she is miserable and that the do-not- resuscitate order is appropriate given the extent of the injuries. The court agreed.
Ms. Trask believes the do-not- resuscitate order amounts to a wrongful termination of her parental rights and believes her daughter should be given a chance to survive, despite the evidence of her continued pain. Ms. Trask is seeking to make medical decisions for her daughter, despite the courts finding that neither parent can be counted on to be physically or emotionally available to make the necessary informed decisions their child needs.
Regardless of all the opinions, this is an extremely sad situation with no good outcome.
By Eric J. Einhart – Guest Blogger
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