The Washington Post

A tragic end for a tiny child prompts family to campaign for euthanasia

She went without oxygen for too long. She became blind and deaf and still. Her organs shut down. So, after unsuccessfully appealing to a hospital ethics committee to end their child’s suffering, the family of Natalie Newton made the decision to remove her feeding tube and let her starve to death.

“That’s just the most cruel, inhumane thing. We euthanize dogs for humanity reasons. We euthanize serial killers. But a 21-month-old baby has to starve for almost nine days?” her grandfather, Brad Newton, told KTVT.

In September 2013, the toddler wandered into the family’s swimming pool in Corpus Christi, Texas, and when they found her a few moments later, she was blue. She was revived and rushed to a local hospital.

Natty, as her family calls her, suffered an anoxic brain injury, KSAT reported. And despite weeks of procedures to save her life, doctors determined she would not survive. So, without an option to legally euthanize, the family went for the only option approved by the hospital’s ethics committee: withhold nutrition and hydration.

The Newtons share their story on a website dedicated to Natty, called The Natty Foundation. It states:

“Nine torturous days passed, from the moment we removed her feeding tube until our Sweet Pea took her last breath in her young mother’s arms. For nine days we had to watch, helplessly, as she became increasingly confused and delirious. In the final moments, Natalie withered away, losing half of her body weight, and becoming nothing but a shell of the little girl, that a few short months ago, filled our lives with laughter and happiness. Humane they say. … They obviously have never starved their baby to death.”

Newton said the ordeal has traumatized his family and now he’s seeking to change the laws in Texas.

The family is petitioning Texas Gov. Rick Perry to make legal the option to euthanize. His petition, posted on, had nearly 250 signatures Friday morning. His goal is 100,000. And, if he makes it, he will ask for a million to take it to the federal level, KSAT reported.

Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Tweet her: @lindseybever



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