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Parent Agree To Let Baby Die, But Disagree On Care

October 21, 1986

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. (AP) _ The estranged parents of a baby boy who has been comatose since his father beat him agree the infant should die naturally but disagree on the level of care.

The young parents have agreed to a ″do-not-resuscitate″ order for 7- month-old Lance Steinhaus. But there is still dispute over whether a tube should be used to help the baby breathe and whether fluid should be suctioned from his lungs.

Redwood County welfare officials, who have custody of the infant, are expected to approve the ″do-not-resuscitate″ order soon, said David Peterson, an attorney for the county.

Until then, doctors remain under orders to revive the baby if his breathing or heart should stop, said Jan Halverson, an attorney for the hospital.

The infant has been in a coma since two beatings in late April by his father, Tim Steinhaus, 26, who said he lost control when his son would not stop crying. The baby is in stable condition and breathes on his own.

Steinhaus is serving 10 years at Stillwater Prison after pleading guilty to two charges of first-degree assault on his son. He fought the ″do-not- resuscitate″ order, but agreed to withdraw his opposition if he is satisfied with the care being taken to ensure the baby’s comfort, attorneys said.

The baby’s mother, Amy Wiederholt, 21, of Winsted, has advocated her son’s right to ″die with dignity.″ County officials blocked her request when her husband protested.

Attorneys for the parents, the county and the University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinic are expected to meet later this week to wrap up an agreement.

″We might just be fighting over semantics,″ said Natalie Hauschild, an attorney representing Wiederholt. ″Everyone agrees the baby should be kept comfortable.″

All sides also agree that the child should receive antibiotics to fight infection, she said.

Yet to be decided is whether to use tubes to aid the baby’s breathing. ″The parties appear to be in agreement that it should be used for the baby’s comfort but not to keep him alive,″ Peterson said.

The case has been monitored closely by medical authorities, anti-abortion groups and handicapped rights advocates as a test of the 1984 ″Baby Doe″ law, which requires aggressive medical treatment for handicapped infants unless that treatment is merely prolonging death.

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