Abbie Dorn, 34, suffered severe brain damage from a prolonged lack of oxygen in childbirth that left her unable to speak, move or live without a feeding tube. As reported in BioEdge last year
, her husband, Dan Dorn, has been fighting to remove her rights to visitation. He argues that the children will be traumatised when they see their mother in her vegetative state.
However a judge has issued a temporary ruling that allows visitation with 4-year-old triplets. Superior Court Judge Frederick C. Shaller ruled after a two-week hearing that Ms Dorn would be granted visits of three hours a day for five days each summer at the home in Southern Carolina where her parents care for her.
Lisa Helfland Meyer, lawyer for Dorn’s parents, said the decision set a precedent for "every single parent out there with any sort of disability."
"I think this is an astounding victory," Meyer said at a news conference. "The court held that this parent has the same right as any other parent to have visitation and a relationship with their child."
Shaller’s decision gave far less than the triplets’ grandparents requested, and father Dan Dorn’s lawyer Vicki Greene says her side got exactly what they wanted – just five days of visits, all supervised by the father. Greene said the ruling confirmed their argument that grandmother Susan Cohen’s beliefs were contradictory to those of the father and that her effect on the children was negative.
Pennsylvania bioethicist Art Caplan says children understand disability and are able to deal with situations like these. “The mother’s condition may be disturbing, but children, like the rest of us, can accommodate the reality of very severe disability. To argue that severe disability ends one’s rights to see one’s children is simply wrong and ought be ruled unacceptable by any court thinking hard about what is in the best interest of children,” he said
. ~ AP, Mar 25
; MSNBC, Mar 25