PORTLAND — A woman in Maine is fighting for the life of her baby daughter after child welfare officials refused to lift a ‘do not resuscitate’ order (DNR) as they believe it would prolong the baby’s suffering.
Aleah Peaslee was six months old when her father, Kevin Peaslee, 22, allegedly shook her as he was watching the child while her mother was at work. He originally told police that he had dropped the baby, but later admitted to shaking her, and was charged with aggravated assault.
Aleah was severely injured and, at one point, went into a coma. Doctors did not believe that she would survive, and suggested a DNR order, which was initially agreed upon.
However, after the hospital removed Aleah from life support and placed her in the arms of her 18-year-old mother, Virginia, the baby continued breathing on her own. Days later, she came out of the coma.
Because of this, Aleah’s mother asked that the DNR order be lifted, but the hospital said that it should remain because the child was still dealing with severe brain injuries. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services also became involved and went to the courts to have the DNR order reinstated against the parents’ will.
It eventually found a judge that would agree, opining that “neither parent can be counted on to be physically or emotionally available to make the necessary informed decision when needed.” The department also succeeded in having Aleah transferred to the custody of foster care.
But Aleah’s mother is continuing to fight the matter in court as she believes that her daughter should have a chance at life. The Maine Supreme Court will now consider the case, and several pro-life groups are backing her efforts, including Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which filed a friend-of-the-court brief last month.
“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,” ADF Senior Counsel Steven Aden explained.
“No one has declared this mother an unfit parent, yet the government wants to take her place,” he said. “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.”
Maine Governor Paul LePage has also taken note of the case, and is vowing to defend the life of the child, even if it means defying the state Supreme Court.
“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,” he told reporters on Friday. “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.”