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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

June-03-03

Florida Judge Refuses To Appoint Guardian for Fetus

Stating there is no legal basis for such a request, Florida judge refused Governor Jeb Bush's plea that the state appoint a guardian for the fetus of a severely disabled woman who became pregnant after being raped in state custody. Despite this ruling, Bush plans to appeal the decision in a loosely veiled attempt to undermine abortion rights by granting legal personhood to a fetus. "If a mom who is pregnant can't make decisions for herself, she would have a guardian, and the unborn child should have a guardian as well," Bush said according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The woman, who is 22 years old, has the mental capacity of an infant and has been in state custody all of her life, was only just appointed a guardian by the state today. "She isn't aware she is pregnant," Rod Taylor, court-appointed attorney for the woman who is known only as J.D.S. told the Associated Press. With advice from doctors, her new guardian will be able to decide whether her pregnancy – now approaching the third trimester - should be terminated, according to the AP.

In another case involving a severely disabled Florida woman who became pregnant after being raped in state custody, the woman identified as Zenobia Henderson underwent an abortion late last week. Florida Circuit Court Judge Arthur Rothenberg authorized doctors to go ahead with the procedure despite repeated legal maneuverings by Liberty Counsel, a Florida anti-abortion group. Their legal efforts were "frivolous, nonsensical and without any legal basis," said Lance Block, an attorney representing the Henderson’s mother, who has repeatedly asked the judge to authorize the procedure, according to AP. Henderson, who is 28 years old and has the cognitive skills of a 4-year-old, is known to have extensive medical ailments which make pregnancy increasingly life threatening for her as it progresses. In addition, doctors have said that the fetus had a 10 percent chance of survival because of medications the woman takes, according to Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report.

Media Resources: Associated Press 6/3/03, 5/31/03; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 6/2/03, 5/30/03; Orlando Sentinel 5/30/03


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