Kirsten Andersen


Court may force disabled Catholic woman to abort her child

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen

RENO, NV, November 1, 2012, ( – A disabled woman in Reno, Nevada, may soon be forced by court order to abort her child against her wishes, despite the objection of her parents.  A hearing is being held Thursday in Nevada’s 2nd District Court to hear testimony from medical experts in the case.

LifeSiteNews spoke to the woman’s mother, Amy Bauer, and her attorney, Jason Guinasso, about the events that led to the pregnancy and court case.

Elizabeth Bauer, 32, was born in Costa Rica, but adopted with her five siblings and brought to the United States by Amy and William Bauer of Fernley when she was 12.  Elizabeth – known to those who care for her as “Elisa” – is disabled as a result of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).  Her birth mother drank while pregnant, leaving Elisa mentally impaired and prone to seizures. She is said to have an IQ of 42 and a mental age of six.

At age 18, still unable to care for herself, Elisa was entrusted by the court to her parents’ permanent guardianship.  They have been responsible for her care ever since, first in their home, then at Chrysalis, a group home for disabled adults in Reno.

The exact circumstances under which Elisa became pregnant are unknown, but the young woman had a history of leaving Chrysalis to visit nearby truck stops and casinos, where she had sexual encounters with men.  It is unclear whether these encounters were consensual, although Chrysalis staff suspect she had sex in exchange for money so that she could gamble. The nature of her mental impairment, however, suggests she is unable to legally consent to sex. 

Concerned for their daughter, the Bauers worked with Chrysalis employees to try to stop her visits to the truck stops and casinos. They gave her a cell phone with a GPS tracking program, and tried to schedule more frequent home visits and other activities to keep her distracted. At the request of Chrysalis staff, the police opened a file and tried to follow her when she left the facility without a specific, safe destination in mind, concerned that she would forget to take her medication and suffer a life-threatening seizure. But the Bauers could not prevent her from leaving the group home without formally institutionalizing her – an option the family discussed and rejected because state law requires disabled adults to be cared for in the least restrictive environment that meets the needs of their disabilities. 

Chrysalis employees notified Elizabeth’s family about her pregnancy as soon as they were aware of it.  For the Catholic Bauer family, abortion was not an option, but they also knew Elizabeth would not be able to care for a baby herself.  They reached out to their community and quickly lined up at least six families willing to adopt the infant, even if the child has special needs. 

When they took Elizabeth to see her neurologist, Dr. William Torch, to find out how her anti-seizure medications might need to be adjusted to minimize harm to the baby, social services, and the court, got involved.

Concerned that she had been sexually abused, Dr. Torch called in Adult Protective Services to question the pregnant woman. Elizabeth’s story, Amy says, was inconsistent.  At first Elizabeth said she had not been raped; then she told investigators “I said no, but he did it anyway.” 

Soon after, the Bauers were summoned to court without explanation – and without a lawyer. 

Amy Bauer says that she and her husband received notice on October 2 that they were to appear in court for an “informal status conference.”  The couple assumed it had to do with their Annual Guardianship Report – a required yearly filing which William had prepared, but had not yet notarized or sent in. He sent it that day, and the Bauers appeared as requested on October 9.

That was when they realized the hearing was about much more than late paperwork.

Attorney Jason Guinasso says Judge Egan Walker confronted the Bauers about Elisa’s pregnancy.  He asked what they planned to do about it, specifically whether they were considering abortion. When Amy and William told the judge that their Catholic faith prevented them procuring an abortion, Guinasso says the judge was dismissive.

“He said ‘I have inherent authority to [override their wishes] because the court appointed the guardians and they are agents of the court,’” Guinasso said.  But Guinasso says that is a misreading of the law.

“There are no statutes that give this Court or Washoe County the authority to compel Elisa to have an abortion,” said Guinasso.  “Such decisions are left to the sound discretion of the duly appointed guardians.”  

He questioned what would happen if the tables were turned and the parents wanted the abortion.  “If Mr. and Mrs. Bauer were abortion minded,” he said, “and decided Elisa should have an abortion, or they had decided to allow Elisa to use contraception and Washoe County Social Services had moral and ethical concerns about contraception or the efficacy of an abortion, neither Washoe County nor this Court would have authority to prohibit the guardians from allowing Elisa from using contraception or undergoing an abortion.”

At the hearing, the court appointed a guardian ad litem to advocate for Elizabeth.  Said Amy, “I asked [the judge] what that was, and he said, ‘Oh, that has nothing to do with your guardianship rights.  It’s just so that while the court is in session, he can talk to Elizabeth about what her wishes [regarding the pregnancy] are, and do research.’”  The judge also appointed an attorney for Elizabeth.

Since then, there have been four more hearings.  Amy says Elizabeth’s doctors are pushing for an abortion. 

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

Amy was horrified. “I tried to switch doctors, but the judge said, ‘No, you can’t do that right now,’” she says. “I never picked these doctors.  I thought I had to use these doctors because she was on Medicaid, but apparently not.  You can pick any doctor on Medicaid.”  Still, says Amy, the judge told her that before she can find new doctors for her daughter, “You have to wait until this is over.” 

Elisa’s pregnancy is high risk because infants born to mothers on anti-seizure medication have a higher rate of birth defects than the general population.  But the vast majority of epileptic women have healthy babies, says Dr. Michel Czerkes, an OB/GYN at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine. “Monitoring and screening in pregnancy is the recommended course of treatment in pregnancy for a baby who has been exposed to an anti-epileptic medication,” he says, “not abortion.”  

At first, Amy says, Elisa was adamant that she did not want an abortion.  “I explained to her what an abortion was, and she didn’t say anything.  I said, ‘What do you want?’ and she said, ‘I want to have the baby and take care of it.’”  When Amy explained that Elisa could not care for a child, Elisa agreed that it would be better if a mother and father took the baby in, as long as she got to see the child sometimes.  “I wonder if it’s a boy or a girl,” Amy recounts, her voice breaking.

Amy and William tried to bring Elisa home to keep closer watch over her care during her pregnancy.  Again, the judge said no.  “They’re trying to limit our contact with her,” Amy tells LifeSiteNews. 

She says Elisa is confused since the court process began, and that Chrysalis staff told her that the more the social workers and doctors talk to Elisa, the more upset she becomes. 

“Until they started talking to her,” Amy says, “she was very clear that she wanted to have the baby and come home.”  Since the court case started, however, “she’s upset and crying…she doesn’t want to go to court.  She doesn’t want to talk to anybody anymore.”  Amy says she feels as if social services is pushing a pro-abortion view on Elisa, and it’s confusing her daughter.

“I don’t know what they’re telling her,” Amy said, “but I know the result.” contacted Deputy District Attorney Dania Reid, who represents the Washoe County Public Guardian, the department responsible for investigating Elisa’s case.  Reid denied that the investigation and court hearings are designed to force Elisa to abort her baby.  Reading from the court order, she maintained that her clients are investigating Elisa’s “medical and psychiatric, psychological condition, care, maintenance, and placement.” 

When questioned about purpose of the investigation, the attorney was silent for 24 seconds. 

She then said, “The purpose is to file a report with the court detailing the findings and conclusions regarding the current personal condition of Miss Bauer.”

Asked if the court is seeking to revoke her parents’ guardianship, Reid replied, “That is not what this order says.”  As to whether it’s possible that Elisa will be forced to have an abortion against the wishes of her parents, Reid said the court “will be the ultimate arbiter” in deciding the fate of Elisa and her baby.

A court hearing is scheduled for at 2:30 PM PDT on Thursday, during which Judge Walker will begin hearing testimony from medical experts.  A second hearing is scheduled for November 6.

Share this article

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

Share this article

Featured Image
Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

Share this article

Featured Image
A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

, ,

‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

Share this article


Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook