AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage supports a teenage mother's right to make medical decisions on behalf of her brain-damaged daughter, putting him at odds with child welfare workers who won a judge's approval for a do-not-resuscitate order.
LePage said Monday in a statement that Virginia Trask should be able to make medical decisions, including lifting the judge-approved do-not-resuscitate order, as long as her parental rights aren't revoked.
"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," he said.
Trask's daughter, Aleah Peaslee, was 6 months old in December when she was shaken by her father while she was a work, authorities said. The father is awaiting trial next month on aggravated-assault charges.
Trask originally agreed to a do-not-resuscitate order because of the severity of her daughter's injuries. But she changed her mind when her daughter, who had been removed from life support and placed in her arms, opened her eyes and began breathing on her own.
Nonetheless the injuries are severe: The girl is blind and cannot hear, requires a feeding tube because she cannot suck or swallow and will never advance beyond an "early infantile level," according to court documents.
A state judge who gave child welfare officials authority to make medical decisions found that "neither parent can be counted on to be physically or emotionally available to make the necessary informed decision when needed."
Upon learning of the matter, LePage immediately called for a full review of how these decisions are made, and the commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services raised concerns as well.
Maine's supreme court is scheduled to hear arguments this month.