Kirsten Andersen

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Court may force disabled Catholic woman to abort her child

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen
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RENO, NV, November 1, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – 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.”

LifeSiteNews.com 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.

Red alert! Only 2 days left.

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Newsbusters Staff

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Disney ABC embraces X-rated anti-Christian bigot Dan Savage in new prime time show

Newsbusters Staff
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March 30, 2015 (NewsBusters.org) -- Media Research Center (MRC) and Family Research Council (FRC) are launching a joint national campaign to educate the public about a Disney ABC sitcom pilot based on the life of bigoted activist Dan Savage. MRC and FRC contacted Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ABC Television Group, more than two weeks ago urging him to put a stop to this atrocity but received no response. [Read the full letter]

A perusal of Dan Savage’s work reveals a career built on advocating violence — even murder — and spewing hatred against people of faith. Savage has spared no one with whom he disagrees from his vitriolic hate speech. Despite his extremism, vulgarity, and unabashed encouragement of dangerous sexual practices, Disney ABC is moving forward with this show, disgustingly titled “Family of the Year.”

Media Research Center President Brent Bozell reacts:

“Disney ABC’s decision to effectively advance Dan Savage’s calls for violence against conservatives and his extremist attacks against people of faith, particularly evangelicals and Catholics, is appalling and outrageous. If hate speech were a crime, this man would be charged with a felony. Disney ABC giving Dan Savage a platform for his anti-religious bigotry is mind-boggling and their silence is deafening.

“By creating a pilot based on the life of this hatemonger and bringing him on as a producer, Disney ABC is sending a signal that they endorse Dan Savage’s wish that a man be murdered. He has stated, ‘Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.’ ABC knows this. We told them explicitly.

“If the production of ‘Family of the Year’ is allowed to continue, not just Christians but all people of goodwill can only surmise that the company Walt Disney created is endorsing violence.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins reacts:

“Does ABC really want to produce a pilot show based on a vile bully like Dan Savage?  Do Dan Savage’s over-the top-obscenity, intimidation of teenagers and even violent rhetoric reflect the values of Disney?  Partnering with Dan Savage and endorsing his x-rated message will be abandoning the wholesome values that have attracted millions of families to Walt Disney.”

Dan Savage has made numerous comments about conservatives, evangelicals, and Catholics that offend basic standards of decency. They include:

  • Proclaiming that he sometimes thinks about “f****ing the shit out of” Senator Rick Santorum

  • Calling for Christians at a high school conference to “ignore the bull**** in the Bible”

  • Saying that “the only thing that stands between my d*** and Brad Pitt’s mouth is a piece of paper” when expressing his feelings on Pope Benedict’s opposition to gay marriage

  • Promoting marital infidelity

  • Saying “Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.”

  • Telling Bill Maher that he wished Republicans “were all f***ing dead”

  • Telling Dr. Ben Carson to “suck my d***. Name the time and place and I’ll bring my d*** and a camera crew and you can s*** me off and win the argument.”

Reprinted with permission from Newsbusters

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Jacqueline Harvey

Ending the end-of-life impasse: Texas is poised to ban doctor-imposed death by starvation

Jacqueline Harvey
By Jacqueline Harvey

AUSTIN, Texas, March 30, 2015 (TexasInsider.org)  After five consecutive sessions of bitter battles over end-of-life bills, the Texas Legislature is finally poised to pass the first reform to the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) in 12 years. An issue that created uncanny adversaries out of natural allies, and equally odd bedfellows, has finally found common ground in H.B. 3074 by State Rep. Drew Springer.  

H.B. 3074 simply prohibits doctor-imposed euthanasia by starvation and dehydration.

Since H.B. 3074 includes only those provisions and language that all major organizations are on record as having deemed acceptable in previous legislative sessions, there is finally hope of ending the end-of-life impasse in the Texas Capitol.

Many would be surprised to learn that Texas law allows physicians to forcibly remove a feeding tube against the will of the patient and their family. In fact, there is a greater legal penalty for failing to feed or water an animal than for a hospital to deny a human being food and water through a tube.

This is because there is no penalty whatsoever for a healthcare provider who wishes to deny artificially-administered nutrition and hydration (AANH). According to Texas Health and Safety Code, “every living dumb creature” is legally entitled access to suitable food and water.

Denying an animal food and water, like in this January case in San Antonio, is punishable by civil fines up to $10,000 and criminal penalties up to two years in jail per offense. Yet Texas law allows health care providers to forcibly deny food and water from human beings – what they would not be able to legally do to their housecat. And healthcare providers are immune from civil and criminal penalties for denial of food and water to human beings as long as they follow the current statutory process which is sorely lacking in safeguards.

Therefore, while it is surprising that Texas has the only state law that explicitly mentions food and water delivered artificially for the purpose of completely permitting its forced denial (the other six states mention AANH explicitly for the opposite purpose, to limit or prohibit its refusal), it is not at all surprising that the issue of protecting a patient’s right to food and water is perhaps the one point of consensus across all major stakeholders.

H.B. 3074 is the first TADA reform bill to include only this provision that is agreed upon across all major players in previous legislative sessions.

There are irreconcilable ideological differences between two major right-to-life organizations that should supposedly be like-minded: Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life. Each faction (along with their respective allies) have previously sponsored broad and ambitious bills to either preserve but reform the current law (Texas Alliance for Life’s position) or overturn it altogether as Texas Right to Life aims to do.

Prior to H.B. 3074, bills filed by major advocacy organizations have often included AANH, but also a host of other provisions that were so contentious and unacceptable to other organizations that each bill ultimately died, and this mutually-agreed-upon and vital reform always died along with it.

2011 & 2013 Legislative Sessions present prime example

This 2011 media report shows the clear consensus on need for legislation to simply address the need to protect patients’ rights to food and water:

“Hughes [bill sponsor for Texas Right to Life] has widespread support for one of his bill’s goals: making food and water a necessary part of treatment and not something that can be discontinued, unless providing it would harm the patient.”

Nonetheless, in 2013, both organizations and their allies filed complicated, contentious opposing bills, both of which would have protected a patient’s right to food and water but each bill also included provisions the rival group saw as contrary to their goals. Both bills were ultimately defeated and neither group was able to achieve protections for patients at risk of forced starvation and dehydration – a mutual goal that could have been met through a third, narrow bill like H.B. 3074.

H.B. 3074 finally focuses on what unites the organizations involved rather than what divides them, since these differences have resulted in a 12 year standoff with no progress whatsoever.

H.B. 3074 is progress that is pre-negotiated and pre-approved.

It is not a fertile springboard for negotiations on an area of mutual agreement. Rather it is the culmination of years of previous negotiations on bills that all came too late, either due to the complexnature of rival bills, the controversy involved, or even both.

On the contrary, H.B. 3074 is not just simply an area of agreement; moreover, it is has already been negotiated. It should not be stymied by disagreements on language, since Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life (along with their allies) were able to agree on language in 2007 with C.S.S.B. 439. C.S.S.B. 439 reads that, unlike the status quo that places no legal conditions on when food and water may be withdrawn, it would be permitted for those in a terminal condition if,

“reasonable medical evidence indicates the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration may hasten the patient’s death or seriously exacerbate other major medical problems and the risk of serious medical pain or discomfort that cannot be alleviated based on reasonable medical judgment outweighs the benefit of continued artificial nutrition and hydration.”

This language is strikingly similar to H.B. 3074 which states, “except that artificially administered nutrition and hydration must be provided unless, based on reasonable medical judgment, providingartificially administered nutrition and hydration would:

  1. Hasten the patient’s death;
  2. Seriously exacerbate other major medical problems not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  3. Result in substantial irremediable physical pain, suffering, or discomfort not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  4. Be medically ineffective; or
  5. Be contrary to the patient’s clearly stated desire not to receive artificially administered nutrition or hydration.”

With minimal exceptions (the explicit mention of the word terminal, the issue of medical effectiveness and the patient’s right to refuse), the language is virtually identical, and in 2007 Texas Right to Life affirmed this language as clarifying that “ANH can only be withdrawn if the risk of providing ANH is greater than the benefit of continuing it.”

Texas Right to Life would support the language in H.B. 3074 that already has Texas Alliance for Life’s endorsement. Any reconciliation on the minor differences in language would therefore be minimal and could be made by either side, but ultimately, both sides and their allies would gain a huge victory – the first victory in 12 years on this vital issue.

It seems that the Texas Advance Directive Act, even among its sympathizers, has something for everyone to oppose.

The passage of H.B. 3074 and the legal restoration of rights to feeding tubes for Texas patients will not begin to satisfy critics of the Texas Advance Directives Act who desire much greater changes to the law and will assuredly continue to pursue them. H.B. 3074 in no way marks the end for healthcare reform, but perhaps a shift from the belief that anything short of sweeping changes is an endorsement of the status quo.

Rather, we can look at H.B. 3074 as breaking a barrier and indicating larger changes are possible.

And if nothing else, by passing H.B. 3074 introduced by State Rep. Drew Springer, we afford human beings in Texas the same legal access to food and water that we give to our horses. What is cruel to do to an animal remains legal to do to humans in Texas if organizations continue to insist on the whole of their agenda rather than agreeing to smaller bills like H.B. 3074.

The question is, can twelve years of bad blood and bickering be set aside for even this most noble of causes?

Reprinted from TexasInsider.org with the author's permission. 

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Only 3 Days Left!
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Only 3 Days Left!

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

I can’t believe how quickly our annual Spring campaign has flown by. Now,with only 3 days remaining, we still have $96,000 left to raise to meet our absolute minimum goal.

That’s why I must challenge you to stop everything, right now, and make a donation of whatever amount you can afford to support the pro-life and pro-family investigative reporting of LifeSite!

I simply cannot overemphasize how important your donation, no matter how large or small, is to the continued existence of LifeSite. 

For 17 years, we have relied almost exclusively on the donations of our growing army of everyday readers like you: readers who are tired of the anti-life and anti-family bias of the mainstream media, and who are looking for a different kind of news agency.

We at LifeSite have always striven to be that news agency, and your ever-faithful support has encouraged us to forge ahead fearlessly in this mission to promote the Culture of Life through investigative news reporting.

You will find our donation page is incredibly simple and easy to use. Making your donation will take less than two minutes, and then you can get back to the pressing duties scheduled for your day. But those two minutes means the world to us!

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The Benham Brothers are only one of many, many pro-life and family leaders, media personalities, politicians, and activists around the world who rely on LifeSite on a daily basis!

Since our humble beginnings in the late 90s, LifeSite has gone from a small non-profit to an international force in the battle for life and family, read by over 5 million people every month

This is thanks only to the leaders, activists, and ordinary readers just like you who have recognized the importance truth plays in turning the tides of the Culture.

I want to thank the many readers who helped bring us within striking distance of our minimum goal with their donations over the weekend. 

But though we have made great strides in the past few days, we still need many more donations if we are going to have any hope of making it all the way by April 1st.

In these final, anxious days of our quarterly campaigns, I am always tempted to give in to fear, imagining what will happen if we don’t reach our goal.

In these moments, however, I instead turn to prayer, remembering that God in his providence has never yet let us down. With His help we have always been given precisely what we need to carry on!

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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