Child Support

The same extreme measures that saved Sidney Miller at birth also severely disabled her 11 years ago. Texas courts are still trying to determine who should pay for it -- and could set a legal precedent in the process.

It was downhill for Hatchell after that. Keltner loathed to get into any discussion with the court on abortion rights, simply because they had no relevance to the case. He nonetheless torpedoed it the first chance he got on rebuttal.

"What they are advocating to you is that Roe v. Wade should be extended," Keltner said. "But no matter what you think of it," the U.S. Supreme Court "recognized that babies have rights, and in fact it just says that the mothers' rights overcame the fetus, and that you had to bow to that right, in the third trimester."

Finally, Keltner pointed out, Nathan Hecht had authored an opinion not long ago that ruled an unborn child is a "person" for purposes of malpractice cases. It stands to reason, he concluded, that an unborn child has all the rights of any resident. And when it comes to medical treatment, Texas law gives parents the express right to make those decisions.

After the hearing, Colleen Horton was disappointed. The arguments hadn't included the issue of discrimination of the disabled. And she had a point: HCA had brought the issue -- and the protesters -- to Waco, but left them at the courthouse door. But, like so much of what the 14th Court of Appeals called "implications" of the Miller case, it had nothing to do with the facts.

One point in particular has not emerged in the almost 12 years since Sidney Miller was born: On any given day during the four agonizing months their daughter spent on life support, Mark and Karla could have found a pediatrician to help them pull the plug. Her father says that was a decision they never discussed.

"She's sitting there looking at you. She's alive. She's going to live," he says. "She's still living."

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